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Titel: Israel 

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The aims and the limits of the present work are 
sufficiently explained in the Introduction. Here it only- 
remains for me to perform the pleasant duty of record- 
ing my gratitude to Mr. I. Abrahams, of Cambridge, 
for his friendly assistance in the revision of the 
proofs and my indebtedness to him for many valuable 
suggestions. He must not, however, be held to share 
all my views. 

G. F. A. 



Authorities ___-__-- xi 

Introduction -------- xv 

Hebraism and Hellenism _____ i 


The Jew in the Roman Empire - - - - 18 

Judaism and Paganism ------ 28 

The Dispersion _______ 34. 

Christianity and the Jews - - - - - 41 

Middle Ages --------62 



The Crusades --------83 


Usury and the Jews - - - - - -105 

The Jews in England - - - - -115 


The Jews in Spain - - - - - 141 


After the Expulsion - - - - - -167 


The Renaissance - - - - - -178 


The Ghetto - - - - - - - -196 

The Reformation and the Jews - - - 214 

Catholic Reaction ------- 232 

In Holland -------- 245 


In England after the Expulsion - - - 255 

Resettlement - - - - - - - -275 


The Eve of Emancipation - - - - -286 


Palingenesia - - - - - - - -301 

In Russia --------- 329 


In Roumania -------- 379 

Anti-Semitism -------- 404 

Zionism --------- 482 

Index - - - - - - - - -519 

Approximate Density of the Jewish Population At end. 

Ch. I. 


H. Graetz's "History of the Jews." 
Dean Milman's " History of the Jews." 
"The Jewish Encyclopedia." 


E. R. Bevan's "The House of Seleucus"; "High Priests of 

Ch. II., IV., V. 

J. S. Riggs' " History of the Jewish People during the Macca- 

baean and Roman Periods." 
W. D. Morrison's "The Jews under Roman Rule." 
Mommsen's "History of Rome." 
Gibbon's " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." 

Ch. VI., VII., VIII. 

Benjamin of Tudela's "Travels." Transl. by Asher. 

I. Abrahams' " Jewish Life in the Middle Ages " ; " Maimo- 

Hallam's "Middle Ages." 

S. P. Scott's " History of the Moorish Empire in Europe." 
Gibbon's " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." 
A. Marshall's " Principles of Economics." 


Ch. IX. 

J. Jacobs' "The Jews of Angevin England." 

B. L. Abrahams' "The Expulsion of the Jews from England 

in 1290." 
J. E. Blunt's " History of the Establishment and Residence of 

the Jews in England." 
M. Margoliouth's "The Jews in Great Britain." 

Ch. X., XI. 

A. de Castro's " History of the Jews in Spain." 

J. Finn's " History of the Jews in Spain and Portugal." 

E. H. Lindo's " History of the Jews in Spain and Portugal." 

Prescott's " Ferdinand and Isabella." 

Ch. XII. 

The Cambridge Modern History: Vol. I., "The Renaissance." 
W. Roscoe's " The Life and Pontificate of Leo X." 

Ch. XIII. 

I. Abrahams' "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages." 
W. C Hazlitt's "The Venetian Republic." 

Ch. XIV. 

The Cambridge Modem History : Vol. II. " The Reformation." 

Ch. XV. 

J. Finn's " History of the Israelites in Poland." 
The Cambridge Modem History : Vol. III., "The Wars of 
Religion"; Vol. IV., "The Thirty Years' War." 

Ch. XVI. 

Motley's "Dutch Republic." 

Ch. XVII. 

J. E. Blunt's "History of the Establishment and Residence of 

the Jews in England." 
M. Margoliouth's "The Jews in Great Britain." 



Lucien Wolfs "Resettlement of Jews in England"; " Manasseh 
ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell." 

S. R. Gardiner's "History of the Commonwealth and Pro- 

J. Morley's " Oliver Cromwell." 

Ch. XIX., XX. 

M. Samuel's " Memoirs of Moses Mendelssohn." 

Solomon Maimon's "Autobiography." Transl. by H. Clark 

E. Schreiber's " Reformed Judaism and its Pioneers." 
The Cambridge Modern History: Vol. VIIL, "The French 

Revolution " ; Vol. IX., " Napoleon." 
Encyclopaedia Britannica: Article, "Jews." 

Ch. XXI. 

Prince San Donato DemidofF's " The Jewish Question in 

Russia." Transl. by H. Guedalla. 
L. Cerfs "Les Juifs de Russie." 
Leo Wiener's " History of Yiddish Literature in the 1 9th 

Beatrice C. Baskerville's "The Polish Jew." 

Ch. XXII. 

Israel Davis' "Jews in Roumania." 

E. Sincerus' " Les Juifs en Roumanie : Les lois et leurs con- 

A. M. Goldsmid's "Persecution of the Jews of Roumania." 

H. Sutherland Edwards' " Sir William White : His Life and 
Correspondence. " 

" Rumania and the Jews," by " Verax." 


Joseph Jacobs' "The Jewish Question." 

" Aspects of the Jewish Question," by " A Quarterly Reviewer." 

Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu's " Israel parmi les Nations." 


Ch. XXIII.— cmtd. 

E. Drumont's "La France Juive." 

Encyclopedia Britannica : Article, " Anti-Semitism." 

W. H. Wilkins' "The Alien Invasion." 

C. Russell and H. S. Lewis' "The Jew in London." 

Ch. XXIV. 

H. Bentwich's "The Progress of Zionism." 

R. Gottheil's "The Aims of Zionism." 

T. Herzl's "A Jewish State." 

"The Jewish Question," Anon. (Gay and Bird, 1894). 

" Aspects of the Jewish Question," by " A Quarterly Reviewer. 53 

Encyclopedia Britannica : Article, " Zionism." 

In addition to these main guides reference, on special points, is made to 
particular authorities in the footnotes. 


It was not without reason that Philo, the famous Graeco- 
Jewish scholar of Alexandria, regarded Aaron's rod, which 
"was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed 
blossoms, and yielded almonds," as an emblem of his 
race. Torn from the stem that bore and from the soil 
that nourished them, and for nearly twenty centuries 
exposed to the wintry blasts of adversity and persecution, 
the children of Israel still bud and blossom and provide 
the world with the perennial problem now known as the 
Jewish Question — a question than which none possesses a 
deeper interest for the student of the past, or a stronger 
fascination for the speculator on the future; a question 
compared with which the Eastern, the Irish, and all other 
vexed questions are but things of yesterday ; a question 
which has taxed the ingenuity of European statesmen ever 
since the dispersion of this Eastern people over the lands 
of the West. 

" What to do with the Jew ? " This is the question. 
The manner in which each generation of statesmen, from 
the legislators of ancient Rome to those of modern 
Roumania, has attempted to answer it, forming as it 
does a sure criterion of the material, intellectual and 
moral conditions which prevailed in each country at 
each period, might supply the basis for an exceedingly 
interesting and instructive, if somewhat humiliating, 
study of European political ethics. Here I will content 
myself with a lighter labour. I propose to sketch in 
outline the fortunes of Israel in Europe from the earliest 
times to the present day. It is a sad tale, and often 
told ; but sufficiently important to bear telling again. 


My object — in so far as human nature permits — will be 
neither to excuse nor to deplore ; but only to describe 
and, in some measure, to explain. 

It is no exaggeration to say that the Jews have been 
in Europe for a longer period than some of the nations 
which glory in the title of European. Ages before the. 
ancestors of the modern Hungarians and Slavonians 
were heard of, the keen features and guttural accents 
of the Hebrew trader were familiar in the markets of 
Greece and Italy. As early as the fourth century b.c. we 
find the Hebrew word for "earnest-money" domiciled in 
the Greek language (appaftwv), and as early as the second 
century in the Latin (arrhabo) — a curious illustration of 
the Jew's commercial activity in the Mediterranean even 
in those days. 1 And yet, despite the length of their 
sojourn among the peoples of the West, the majority of 
the Jews have remained in many essential respects as 
Oriental as they were in the time of the Patriarchs. A 
younger race would have yielded to the influence of 
environment, a weaker race would have succumbed to 
oppression, a less inflexible or unsympathetic race might 
have conquered its conquerors. But the Jews, when they 
first came into contact with Europe, were already too 
old for assimilation, too strong for extermination, too 
hardened in their peculiar cult for propagandism. Even 
after having ceased to exist as a state Israel survived 
as a nation; forming the one immobile figure in a 
perpetually moving panorama. The narrow local idea 
of the ancient Greek state was merged into the broad 
cosmopolitanism of the Macedonian Empire, and 
that, in its turn, was absorbed by the broader 
cosmopolitanism of Imperial Rome. But the Jew 
remained faithful to his own olden ideal. Monotheism 
superseded Polytheism, and the cosmopolitanism of the 
Roman Empire was succeeded by that of the Roman 

1 The oldest Greek author in whose works the term occurs is the 
orator Isaeus who flourished b.c. 364; the earliest Latin writer is 
Plautus who died B.C. 184. Of course, the word, though very good 
Hebrew, may have been imported into Europe by the Phoenicians. 
But it would be a bold man who would attempt to distinguish between 
Jewish and Phoenician merchants at this time of day. 


Church. The Jew still continued rooted in the past. 
Mediaeval cosmopolitanism gave way to the nationalism 
of modern Europe. Yet the Jew declined to participate 
in the change. Too narrow in one age, not narrow 
enough in another, always at one with himself and at 
variance with his neighbours, now, as ever, he offers 
the melancholy picture of one who is a stranger in the 
land of his fathers and an alien in that of his adoption. 

The upshot of this refusal to move with the rest of the 
world has been mutual hatred, discord, and persecution ; 
each age adding a new ring to the poisonous plant of 
anti-Judaism. For this result both sides are to blame — 
or neither. No race has ever had the sentiment of 
nationality and religion more highly developed, or been 
more intolerant of dissent, than the Jewish ; no race has 
ever suffered more grievously from national and religious 
fanaticism and from intolerance of dissent on the part 
of others. The Jewish colonies forming, as they mostly 
do, small, exclusive communities amidst uncongenial 
surroundings, have always been the objects of prejudice — 
the unenviable privilege of all minorities which stubbornly 
refuse to conform to the code approved by the majority. 
The same characteristics evoked a similar hostility 
against primitive Christianity and led to the perse- 
cution of the early martyrs. No one is eccentric with 
impunity. Notwithstanding the gospel of toleration 
constantly preached by sages, and occasionally by saints, 
the attitude of mankind has always been and still is 
one of hostility towards dissent. Sois mon frere, ou je 
te iue is a maxim which, in a modified form, might be 
extended to other than secret revolutionary societies. 
The only difference consists in the manner in which 
this tyrannical maxim is acted upon in various countries 
and ages : legal disability may supersede massacre, or 
expulsion may be refined into social ostracism; yet the 
hostility is always present, however much its expression 
may change. Man is a persecuting animal. 

To the Jews in Europe one might apply the words 
which Balzac's cynical priest addressed to the disillusioned 
young poet : " Vous rompiez en visiere aux idees du monde 


et vous navez pas eu la consideration que le monde accorde 
a ceux qui obeissent a ses lois." Now, when to mere 
outward nonconformity in matters of worship and 
conduct is superadded a radical discrepancy of moral, 
political, and social ideals, whether this discrepancy be 
actively paraded or only passively maintained, the out- 
come can be no other than violent friction. It is, 
therefore, not surprising that the "black days" should 
vastly outnumber the " red " ones in the Jewish Calendar 
— that brief but most vivid commentary on the tragic 
history of the race. The marvel is that the race should 
have survived to continue issuing a calendar. 

At the same time, a dispassionate investigation would 
prove, I think, to the satisfaction of all unbiassed minds, 
that the degree in which the Jews have merited the odium 
of dissent has in every age been strictly proportionate to the 
magnitude of the odium itself. Even at the present hour 
it would be found upon enquiry that the Jews retain most 
of their traditional aloofness and fanaticism — most of what 
their critics stigmatise as their tribalism — in those countries 
in which they suffer most severely. Nay, in one and the 
same country the classes least liable to the contempt, 
declared or tacit, of their neighbours are the classes least 
distinguished by bigotry. It is only natural that it should 
be so. People never cling more fanatically to the ideal 
than when they are debarred from the real. Christianity 
spread first among slaves and the outcasts of society, and 
its final triumph was secured by persecution. We see a 
vivid illustration of this universal principle in modern 
Ireland. To what is the enormous influence of the 
Catholic Church over the minds of the peasantry due, but 
to the ideal consolations which it has long provided for 
their material sufferings? Likewise in the Near East. 
The wealthy Christians, in order to save their lands from 
confiscation, abjured their religion and embraced the 
dominant creed of Islam. The poor peasants are ready 
to lay down their lives for their faith, and believe that 
whosoever dies in defence of it will rise again to life 
within forty days. It is easy to deride the excesses of 
spiritual enthusiasm, to denounce the selfish despotism of 


its ministers, and to deplore the blind fanaticism of its 
victims. But fanaticism, after all, is only faith strength- 
ened by adversity and soured by oppression. 

Jewish history itself shows that the misfortunes which 
fan bigotry also preserve religion. Whilst independent 
and powerful, the Jews often forgot the benefits bestowed 
upon them by their God, and transferred the honour due 
to Him to the strange gods of their idolatrous neighbours. 
But when Jehovah in His wrath hid His face from His 
people and punished its ingratitude by placing it under a 
foreign yoke, the piety of the Jews acquired in calamity a 
degree of fervour and constancy which it had never 
possessed in the day of their prosperity. The same 
phenomenon has been observed in every age. When 
well treated, the Jews lost much of their aloofness, and 
the desire for national rehabilitation was cherished only 
as a romantic dream. But in times of persecution 
the longing for redemption, and for restoration under 
a king of their own race, blazed up into brilliant 
flame. The hope of the Messianic Redeemer has been a 
torch of light and comfort through many a long winter's 
night. But it has burnt its brightest when the night has 
been darkest. If at such times the Jews have shown an 
inordinate tenacity of prophetic promise, who can blame 
them? They who possess nothing in the present have 
the best right to claim a portion of the future. 



In spite of the well-known influence which Greek culture 
and Greek thought exercised over a portion of the Jews 
under Alexander the Great's successors, the mass of the 
Hebrew nation never took kindly to Hellenism. Alex- 
ander proved himself as great a statesman as he was a 
warrior. An apostle of Hellenism though he was, he 
did not seek to consolidate his Empire by enforcing 
uniformity of cult and custom, as short-sighted despots 
have done since, but by encouraging friendly intercourse 
between the Greeks and the various peoples that came 
under his sceptre. Gifted with rare imagination, he 
entered into the feelings of races as diverse as the 
Egyptian and the Jewish. To the latter he allotted 
the border-lands which had long been the bone of con- 
tention between themselves and the Samaritans. He 
relieved them from taxation during the unproductive 
Sabbath year. He respected their prejudices, honoured 
their religion, and appreciated their conscientious scruples. 
While, out of deference to Chaldean religious feeling, he 
ordered the Temple of Bel to be rebuilt in Babylon, he 
forgave the Jewish soldiers their refusal to obey his 
command as contrary to the teaching of their faith. Con- 
ciliation was the principle of Alexander's imperialism and 
the secret of his success. The Ptolemies, to whose share, 
on the partition of the Macedonian Empire, Palestine 301 b.c. 
ultimately fell, inherited Alexander's enlightened policy. 
The High Priest of the Jews was recognised as the head 
of the nation, and it was through him that the tribute 
was paid. So fared the Jews at home. 


Abroad their lot was equally enviable. Some modern 
critics had doubted the settlement of Jews in Egypt 
until the third century. But recent discoveries (notably 
Mr. R. Mond's Aramaic Papyri) prove that a 
Jewish community existed in Egypt even in the 
centuries preceding Alexander. Now persuasion and 
the hope of profit drew many thousands of them to 
Alexandria, Cyrene, and other centres of Hellenistic 
culture. In all these places they lived on terms of 
perfect equality with the Greek colonists. The newly- 
built city on the mouth of the Nile soon became 
a seat of Jewish influence and a school of learning for 
the Jewish nation. Under the benign rule of the 
Ptolemies the Jews prospered, multiplied, and attained 
success in every walk of life, public no less than private. 
Of the five divisions of Alexandria they occupied 
nearly two. Egypt was then the granary of Europe, and 
the corn trade lay largely in Jewish hands. Refinement 
came in the train of riches, and freedom begot tolerance. 
The Jews cultivated Greek letters, and some of them 
became deeply imbued with the spirit of Greek philosophy 
and even of art. This friendly understanding between 
the Jewish and the Greek mind gave to the world the 
mystic union of Moses and Plato in the works of Philo 
and the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, 
which was to prepare the way for the advent of 
Christianity. And yet the bulk of the Alexandrian Jews 
remained a peculiar people. Greeks and Egyptians had 
fused their religions into a common form of worship. 
But the Jews were still separated from both races by the 
invincible barriers of belief, law, and custom. They still 
looked upon Jerusalem as their metropolis, and upon 
Alexandria as a mere place of exile. In the midst of 
paganism they formed a monotheistic colony. Their 
houses of prayer were also schools of Levitical learning, 
where the Torah was assiduously studied and expounded. 
Their one link with the State was their own Ethnarch, 
who acted as supreme sovereign and judge of his people, 
and represented it at Court. 

Similar conditions prevailed in Palestine. There also 


Hellenic language, manners, feasts, games, and philosophy 
effected an entrance through the influence of the Greek 
colonies on the coast, and a party of Jewish Hellenists 
was formed. In the land which once rang with the pro- 
phetic utterances of an Isaiah and a Jeremiah were now 
sung the love-poems of Sappho, and were quoted the witty 
sarcasms of the Athenian Voltaire, Euripides. But the 
Torah, or Jewish religious law, was bitterly opposed to 
all innovations, and the anti-Greek section of the people, 
termed the " Pious " (Chassidim or Assideans), regarded 
with deep misgiving the inroad of the foreign culture. 
Hence arose an implacable feud between the Liberals and 
the Conservatives, who hated, anathematised, and later 
crucified each other as cordially as brethren only can do. 
But the Chassidim, though politically worsted, were all- 
powerful in the affections of the community, and the time 
was not distant when they were to assume the supreme 

In 198 b.c. Palestine, after a hundred years' struggle, 
passed under the sway of the Graeco-Syrian Seleucids, 
who, unlike their predecessors, initiated a policy of 
forcible assimilation, and, aided by the Hellenistic party 
among the Jews themselves, compelled their subjects 
to adopt their own civilisation and to pay homage to their 
own gods. However, neither the tolerance of the Graeco- 
Egyptian nor the violence of the Graeco-Syrian kings 
succeeded in reconciling the Jew to the ways of the 
Gentile. Antiochus Epiphanes might banish Jehovah 175-164. b.c. 
from the Temple of Jerusalem and enthrone Zeus in his 
stead ; he might set up altars to the pagan deities in 
every town and village ; and he might exhaust all the 
resources of despotism in the cause of conversion. The 
timorous were coerced into a feigned and transient 
acquiescence, but the bulk of the nation, baited into 
stubbornness, preferred exile or martyrdom to apostasy. 
The defiled temple remained empty and the altars cold, 
until the smouldering discontent of the outraged people 
broke out into flame, and passive resistance yielded to 
fierce rebellion. 166- 141 b.c. 

The movement was led by the heroic, devout, and 


fierce house of the Maccabees — a branch of the Hasmo- 
naean family — who, after a long struggle, distinguished by 
splendid endurance, astuteness, and unspeakable severity, 
delivered their people from the levelling Hellenism of 
163 b.c. the foreign rulers, instituted the Sanhedrin (EvveSpiop), and 
restored the national worship of Jehovah in all its pristine 
purity and narrowness. The victorious band finally entered 
Jerusalem " with praise and palm branches and with harps 
and cymbals and viols and with hymns and with songs," * 
H 1 - Simon was acclaimed High Priest and Prince of Israel, and 
May 23. a new era was inaugurated. The restoration of the Temple 
is still celebrated by the Jews in their annual eight days' 
Feast of Dedication {Channkah), when lamps are lit and a 
hymn is solemnly sung commemorating the miracle of 
the solitary flask of oil, which escaped pagan pollution 
and kept the perpetual light burning in the House of the 
Lord until the day of redemption. 

But religious enthusiasm, though a powerful sword, is 
an awkward sceptre, and it was not long ere the victorious 
family forgot, as the " Pious " would have said, the cause 
of God in the pursuit of self-aggrandisement and earthly 
renown. The conservative elements had been united in 
the supreme effort to maintain their religious liberty. 
But the interest in gaining political independence was 
limited to the ruling family. The Hasmonaeans, having 
established their dynasty, aimed at conquest abroad and 
at royal splendour at home. One of them surrounded 
himself with a foreign bodyguard, and another assumed 
the title of King. Of their former character they 
retained only the enthusiast's ferocity. Their family was 
torn with feuds and stained with the blood of its own 
members. This policy of worldly ambition lost them the 
support of the Chassidim, who could tolerate bloodshed 
only for the sake of righteousness. Moreover, the 
Hasmonaeans, in their new position as an established 
family, had more in common with the priestly aristocracy 
than with the poor fanatics by whose enthusiasm they had 
conquered that position. They, therefore, joined the 
Hellenizing party, and, though a barefaced adoption of 
1 I. Mace. xiii. 51. 


the foreign gods was no longer possible, they endeavoured 
to effect by example what the Seleucids had vainly 
attempted to achieve by force. They were not altogether 
unsuccessful. Greek architecture was introduced into Jeru- 
salem. The Greek numerals were adopted. Greek was 
understood by all the statesmen of Judaea and employed 
in diplomatic negotiations. Greek names became not 
uncommon. The Hebrew bards ceased to hang their 
harps upon the willow-trees. There was no longer need 
for bitter lamentation or lyric inspiration. Prose, tame 
but sober, superseded the fiery poetry of olden times. 
Hymns gave place to history. The Jews were at last 
enjoying with calm moderation their triumphs, religious 
and political, over their foreign and domestic enemies. 
But, if the Hebrew muse was silent for want of 
themes, the Hebrew genius, which had dictated the ancient 
psalms and inspired the ancient prophets, was not dead. 
The national attachment to tradition and strict Judaism 
was manifested by the revival of Hebrew as a spoken 
tongue. It was employed on the coinage, in public edicts, 
and in popular songs. Patriotism was nourished by the 
celebration of the anniversaries of the national victories 
over the enemies of Judaism. In one word, the crowd 
refused to follow the fashions of the Court. The Jew had 
tasted the fruit of Occidental culture and pronounced it 
unpalatable. Hellenism had been touched and found base 
metal ; and, notwithstanding his Kings' efforts — their 
Greek temples and Greek theatres — the Hebrew remained 
an Oriental. " Cursed is the man who allows his son to 
learn the Grecian wisdom " was the verdict of the Talmud, 
and a Jewish poet many centuries after repeats the ana- 
thema in a milder form : " Go not near the Grecian 
wisdom. It has no fruit, but only blossoms." x 

1 On the other hand, a famous Palestinian authority, Abbahu 
(c. 279-320 a.d.), was a noted friend of Greek. He taught it to 
his daughters as "an ornament." Of Abbahu it was said that he 
was the living illustration of Ecclesiastes vii. iS "It is good that 
thou shouldst take hold of this (i.e. the Jewish Law), yet also from that 
(i.e. Gentile culture) withdraw not thy hand : for he that feareth God 
shall come forth of them all." Hellenism might appeal sometimes to 
the Jew's head, though it never thrilled his heart. Cf. p. 39 below. 


But, though the bulk of the nation agreed in its 
attitude towards foreign culture, there now appears an 
internal division into several parties, differing from one 
another in the degree of their attachment to the traditions 
of the past, and in their aspirations for the future. Two 
of these sects stand out pre-eminently as representative of 
Hebrew sentiment, and as the exponents of the two atti- 
tudes which have continued to divide the Jewish nation 
through the ages down to our own day. These are the 
Pharisees and the Sadducees, whose names are first heard 
under the early Hasmonaean chiefs, but whose views 
correspond with those of the Hellenistic and national 
parties of the Seleucid period. The Pharisees were an off- 
shoot of the Assidean party which, as we have seen, had 
waged a truceless and successful war against Hellenism. 
After their victory, the most enthusiastic of the u Pious " 
retired from public life and nursed their piety and dis- 
appointment in ascetic seclusion. But the majority of the 
party were far from considering their mission fulfilled, or 
from being satisfied with abstract devotion. They regarded 
it as a duty both to the faith and to the fatherland to take 
an active part in politics. The preservation of Judaism 
in its ancient exclusiveness was their programme. All 
public undertakings, all national acts, as well as all private 
transactions, were to be measured by the rigid standard of 
religion. The Law in the hands of the Pharisees became a 
Procrustean bed upon which the mind of the nation was 
to be stretched or maimed, according to the require- 
ments of nationalism and the interpretations of the Scribes. 
This inflexible orthodoxy, with its concomitants of dis- 
cipline and sacrifice of individuality, was in perfect accord 
with the Hebrew temperament, and the Pharisees must be 
regarded as the interpreters of the views dear to the great 
mass of their compatriots. As time went on, the Pharisaic 
attitude became more and more hardened into a theological 
creed, clothed in a web of ceremonial formalities, but vivi- 
fied by an inspiring devotion to the will of Jehovah, and 
an ardent belief in the ultimate triumph of His Elect. 

Against this teaching arose the sect of the Sadducees, 
who played towards Pharisaism a part in one respect 


analogous to that played by Protestantism towards 
Catholicism, in another to that played by the Cavaliers 
towards the Roundheads. They derived all their religious 
tenets from the letter of Scripture, rejecting the lessons of 
oral tradition and the "legacies of the Scribes." They 
refused to believe in angels or in the resurrection of the 
dead, and they repudiated the fatalistic doctrine that the 
future of the individual and of the state depends not upon 
human action but upon the divine will, fixed once for all. 
They pointed out that, if this were the case, the belief in 
God's justice would be reduced to an absurdity, as saint 
and sinner would be confused in one indiscriminate 
verdict. The Sadducees held that man is master of his 
own fortunes. The Pharisees met the objection of their 
opponents as to divine justice by the non-Scriptural 
doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which had crept 
into Judaism in the latter years of the Babylonian cap- 
tivity. If the saint and the sinner fared alike in this life, 
they argued, the balance would be restored in the next. 
The righteous would then rise up to everlasting bliss, and 
the wicked to everlasting shame. This and other minor 
points formed the ground of dogmatic difference between 
the two sects. Their difference in questions of practical 
politics and in social views was characteristic of their 
respective creeds. The Sadducees, far from expecting the 
salvation of the nation from a miraculous intervention of 
the Deity, looked to human wisdom for help. They 
placed the interests of the State above the interests of the 
Synagogue. They shared in the aristocrat's well-bred 
horror of disturbing enthusiasms and of asceticism. 
Though recognising the authority of the Law, they were 
temperate in their piety and could not live by unleavened 
bread alone. They favoured Hellenism and supported 
the Hasmonaean kings in their efforts to shake off the 
trammels of ecclesiastical tyranny. The liberal and pro- 
gressive and, at the same time, degenerate tendencies of 
the Sadducean protestants are seen under their most 
pronounced form in the sect of the Herodians, who 40-4 b.c. 
later helped Herod the Great in his endeavour to render 
pagan culture popular among his subjects by the erection 


of temples and theatres, by the adoption of heathen 
fashions of worship, and by the encouragement of the 
Hellenic games. The party of the Sadducees included the 
great priestly families, the noble, and the wealthy, that is, 
the minority. Their opponents interpreted the feelings of 
the lower priesthood and of the people. Judaism, as 
understood by the Pharisees, was the idol for which the 
nation had suffered martyrdom, and the national devotion 
to that idol had gained new fervour from the recent 
struggle with Hellenism. 

The hatred of the Jews towards Hellenism may, in one 
sense, be regarded as a sequel to that older hostility which 
appears to have embittered the intercourse between 
Europe and Asia from the very dawn of history. It is an 
antipathy which under various names and guises continues 
prevalent to this day — revealing itself now in anti- 
Semitism, now in anti-Turkism, and again in the exclusion 
of Asiatic immigrants from English-speaking countries : 
a sad legacy received from our far-off ancestors and likely 
to be handed down to a remote posterity. Long before 
the appearance of the Jew on the stage of European 
politics this antagonism had manifested itself in the 
hereditary feud between Hellene and Barbarian which the 
ingenious Herodotus traced to the reciprocal abductions 
of ladies by the inhabitants of the two continents, and of 
which, according to his theory, the Trojan war was the 
most important and brilliant episode. 1 The same feud 
was in historic times dignified by the Persian king's 
gigantic effort to subdue Europe and, at a later period, 
by Alexander's success in subduing Asia. Had the father 
of history been born again to celebrate the exploits of 
the latter hero, he would, no doubt, have described the 
Macedonian campaign as part of the chain of enmity 
the first links of which he had sought and found in 
the romantic records of mythical gallantry. The modern 
student, while smiling a superior smile at his great fore- 
runner's simple faith in legend and traditional gossip, 
cannot but admit that there was true insight in Herodotus's 
comprehensive survey of history ; but, examining things by 
1 Hdt. i. 1-5. 


the light of maturer experience and with a less uncritical 
eye, he will be inclined to regard this venerable strife as the 
result of a far deeper antagonism between rival civilisations, 
rival mental and moral attitudes — the attitudes which in 
their broadest outlines may be defined as Oriental and Occi- 
dental respectively ; in their narrower aspect, with which we 
are more immediately concerned, as Hebraic and Hellenic. 
The Jew had one quality in common with the Greek. 
They both saw life clearly and saw it as a harmonious 
whole. But they each saw it from an opposite stand- 
point. The thoroughness, consistency, and unity of each 
ideal by itself only rendered its incompatibility with the 
other more complete. It is to this incompatibility that 
must be attributed the failure of Hellenism in Western 
Asia generally and among the Jews in particular. A 
system of life reared upon a purely intellectual basis had 
no charm for a race essentially spiritual. The cold 
language of reason conveyed no message to the mind of 
the Hebrew who, in common with most Orientals, looks 
to revealed religion alone for guidance in matters of belief 
and conduct. The Oriental never feels happy except in a 
creed, and the Hellene offered him nothing better than an 
ethical code. How mean and how earthy must this code 
have appeared in the eyes of men accustomed to the 
splendid terrors of the Mosaic Law ! Again, the in- 
tellectual freedom — the privilege of investigating all and 
testing all before accepting anything as true — which the 
Greek has claimed from all time as man's inalienable 
birthright, and upon which he has built his noble civilisa- 
tion, was repugnant to a people swathed in the bands of 
tradition and distrusting all things that are not sanctioned 
by authority. The Greek had no word for Faith as 
distinct from Conviction. He revered intelligence and 
scorned intuition. What man's mental eye could not 
see clearly was not worth seeing, or rather did not 
exist for him. Palestine was the home of Revelation ; 
Hellas of Speculation. The one country has given us 
Philosophy and the Platonic Dialogues ; the other the 
Prophets and the Mosaic Decalogue : the former all 
argument, the latter all commandment. 


The following conversation between two representatives 
of the two worlds brings their respective attitudes into 
vivid relief. One is Justin Martyr, the other a mysterious 
personage — probably a fictitious character — who sowed in 
Justin's mind the seed of the new religion. 

Justin. Can man achieve a greater triumph than prove 
that reason reigns supreme over all things, and having 
captured reason and being borne aloft by it to survey the 
errors of other men ? There is no wisdom except in 
Philosophy and right reason. 'It is, therefore, every man's 
duty to cultivate Philosophy and to deem that the greatest 
and most glorious pursuit, all other possessions as of 
secondary or tertiary value ; for, if these are wedded to 
Philosophy, they are worthy of some acceptance ; but, if 
divorced from Philosophy, they are burdensome and 

Stranger. What is Philosophy and what the happi- 
ness derived therefrom ? 

Justin. Philosophy is the Knowledge of that which 
is and is true. The happiness derived therefrom is the 
prize of that knowledge. 

Stranger. How can the Philosophers form a correct 
notion of God, or teach anything true concerning him, 
since they have neither seen him nor heard of him ? 

Justin. God cannot be seen with the eye, but only 
comprehended by the mind. 

Stranger. Has our mind, then, such and so great a 
power as to perceive that which is not perceptible through 
the senses? Or can man's mind ever see God unless 
it is adorned with the holy spirit? 

Justin. To whom can, then, one apply for teaching, 
if there is no truth in Plato and Pythagoras ? 

Stranger. There have been men of old, older than 
any of these reputed philosophers, saintly men and just, 
beloved of God, who spoke through the divine spirit and 
predicted the things that were to be. These men are 
called Prophets. They alone saw the truth and declared 
it unto men ; neither favouring nor fearing any one ; not 
slaves to ambition ; but only speaking the things which 
they heard and saw when filled with holy spirit. Their 


works are still extant, and the lover of wisdom may find 
therein all about the beginning and end of things, and 
every thing that he need know. They had not recourse 
to proof, for they were above all proof, trustworthy 
witnesses of the truth. Pray thou above all things that 
the gates of the light may be opened unto thee. 1 

This diversity of view reveals itself in every phase of 
Hebrew and Hellenic life — political, social, religious and 
artistic. The Greeks very early outgrew the primitive 
reverence for the tribal chief — the belief that he derived 
his authority from Heaven, and that he was, on that 
account, entitled to unlimited obedience on the part of 
man. Even in the oldest form of the Greek state known 
to us — the Homeric — the king, though wielding a sceptre 
" given unto him by Zeus," is in practice, if not in theory, 
controlled by the wisdom of a senate and by the will of 
the people. Monarchy gradually developed into oligarchy, 
and this gave way to democracy. Nor was the evolution 
effected until the sacerdotal character, which formed one of 
the king's principal claims to reverence and obedience, lost 
its influence over the Greek mind. In historic times the 
impersonal authority of human law stood alone and para- 
mount, quite distinct from any religious duty, which was a 
matter of unwritten tradition and custom. The divorce 
of the Church from the State in Greece was complete. 
Now, among the Jews the opposite thing happened. King- 
ship remained hereditary and indissolubly associated with 
sacerdotalism. The Semite could not, any more than the 
Mongol, conceive of a separation between the spiritual and 
the temporal Government. The King of Israel in the 
older days always was of the house of David, always 
anointed, and always wore the double crown of princely 
and priestly authority. And when, after the return from 
Babylon, the house of David disappears from sight, its 
power is bequeathed to the hereditary high-priest. To the 
Jew Church and State, religion and morality, continued to 
be synonymous terms ; the distinction between the sacred 
and the secular sides of life was never recognised ; all law, 
political and social, emanated from one Heaven-inspired 

1 Justin Mart. Dial, i.-vii. 


code ; and, while Greece was fast progressing towards 
ochlocracy, Judaea remained a theocracy. 

The Greek was an egoist. He disliked uniformity. 
Although in the direction of his private life he voluntarily 
submitted to a variety of state regulations such as the 
citizen of a modern country would resent as an irksome 
interference with the liberties of the individual, yet, 
judged by the standard of antiquity, the Greek was any- 
thing but amenable to control, and, as time went on, his 
attitude became little better than that of a highly civilised 
anarchist. There were limits beyond which the Greek 
would never admit his neighbour's right to dictate his 
conduct any more than his thoughts. He suffered from 
an almost morbid fear of having his individuality merged 
in any social institution. He would rather be poor in his 
own right than prosper by association with others. Dis- 
cipline was the least conspicuous trait in his character and 
self-assertion the strongest. The Greek knew everything 
except how to obey. The Jew, on the other hand, found 
his chief happiness in self-effacement and submission. His 
everyday life, to the minutest details, was regulated by the 
Law. He was not even allowed to be virtuous after his 
own fashion. The claims of the individual upon the 
community were only less great than the claims of the 
community upon the individual. The strength of 
Hebraism always lay in its power of combination, the 
weakness of Hellenism in the lack of it. 

Equally striking is the contrast discerned between the 
aesthetic ideals of the two races. Much in Hebrew 
imagination is couched in forms which would lose all their 
beauty and freshness, if expressed in colour or marble; 
much that would look grotesque, if dragged into the day- 
light of pure reason. Its effect depends entirely on the 
semi-darkness of emotional suggestion. Now the Greek 
hated twilight. He had no patience with the vague and 
the obscure in imagination any more than in thought. 
Hence artistic expression was nothing to the Jew ; every- 
thing to the Greek. Judaism shunned pictorial repre- 
sentation; Hellenism worshipped it. And, as art in 
antiquity was largely the handmaid of religion, this 


diversity of the aesthetic temperament led to an irrecon- 
cilable religious antagonism. The Jew looked upon the 
pagan's graven images with abhorrence, and the pagan 
regarded the Jew's adoration of the invisible as a proof 
of atheism. 

Not less repugnant to the Hebrew was the Hellenic 
moral temperament as mirrored in literature, in social life, 
and in public worship — that temperament which, without 
being altogether free from pessimism, melancholy, and dis- 
content, yet finds its most natural expression in a healthy 
enjoyment of life and an equally healthy horror of death. 
11 1 would rather be a poor man's serf on earth than king 
among the dead ! " sighs Achilles in Hades, and the 
sentiment is one which his whole race has echoed through 
the ages, and which, despite nineteen centuries of Christi- 
anity, is still heard in the folk-songs of modern Greece. 
The Greek saw the world as it is, and, upon the whole, 
found it very good. He tasted its pleasures with modera- 
tion and bore its pains with a good grace. He perceived 
beauty in all things ; adoring the highest and idealising 
the meanest. Even the shrill song of the humble grass- 
hopper held sweet music for the Greek. He revelled in 
the loveliness and colour of life. He was inspired by the 
glory of the human form. He extolled the majesty of 
man. The Hebrew mind was nursed by meditation ; the 
Hellenic drew its nourishment from contemplation. 
Nature was the Greek's sole guide in taste as well as 
in conduct; from nature he learnt the canons of the 
beautiful as well as the laws of right and wrong. Hence 
no country has produced greater poets than Greece, or 
fewer saints. 

How could this view of things, so sane and yet so 
earthy, be acceptable to a race oppressed by the sense of 
human suffering as the fruit of human sin ? <£ Serve the 
Lord with joy ; come before him with singing," urged the 
Psalmist in a moment of optimistic cheerfulness. But it 
was only for a moment. 1 The true note of Hebraism 

1 1 am referring here to what seems to me characteristic of Hebraism 
in the earlier periods when it came into contact and conflict with 
Hellenism. In its subsequent development Pharisaism (which gradually 


is struck in another text : u Vanity of vanities, saith the 
Preacher, vanity of vanities ; all is vanity." The Greek 
understood the meaning of the sad refrain ; but he did 
not allow it to depress him. To the Greek life was a 
joyous reality, or at the worst an interesting problem; 
to the Jew a bad dream, or at the best an inscrutable 
mystery. To the Hebrew mind the sun that shines in 
the sky and the blossoms that adorn the earth are at 
most but pale symbols of Divine Love, pledges for a bliss 
which is not of this world. And yet Socrates emptied the 
cup of death with a smile and a jest, where Job would 
have filled the world with curses and bitter lamentation. 
Laughter came as spontaneously to the Greek as breath, 
and the two things died together. The Jew could not 
laugh, and would not allow any one else to do so. The 
truth is that the Greek never grew old, and the Jew 
was never young. 

Another lively illustration of the gulf which separated 
the two races is offered by the Greek games. These 
were introduced into Palestine by the Greek rulers and 
colonists, were adopted by the Hellenizing minority 
among the Jews themselves, and were denounced with 
horror by the Conservative majority. Nudity, in the 
eyes of the latter, was the colophon of shamelessness, 
while by the Greeks the discarding of false shame was 
regarded as one of the first steps to true civilisation. 
Thucydides mentions the athletic habit of racing perfectly 
naked as an index to the progress achieved by his country 
and as one of the things that marked off the Hellene 
from the Barbarian. 1 The Greeks were free from that 
morbid consciousness of sex which troubled the over- 
clothed Asiatics. Nor were they aware of that imaginary 
war between the spirit and the flesh which gave rise 

absorbed the whole of the Jewish people) avoided undue asceticism and 
laid stress on the joy of living. " Joyous service " became the keynote 
of Judaism and Jewish life in the Middle-ages, as it was the keynote of 
many Pharisees in the first centuries of the Christian era. The Essenes, 
though highly important in the history of primitive Christianity, had 
less influence on the main development of Rabbinic Judaism. 

1 Bk. i. ch. vi. 5-7. 


to the revolting self-torments of Eastern aspirants to 

The peculiar characteristics of the Hebrew mind found 
their supreme manifestation in the sect of the Essenes — 
the extreme wing of the Pharisaic phalanx. The strict- 
ness of the Pharisees was laxity when compared with the 
painful austerity of their brethren. The latter aimed at 
nothing less than a pitiless immolation of human nature to 
the demands of an ideal sanctity. Enamoured of this 
imaginary holiness, the Essenes disdained all the real 
comforts and joys of life. Their diet was meagre, their 
dwellings mean, their dress coarse. Colour and ornament 
were eschewed as Satanic snares. The mere act of 
moving a vessel, or even obedience to the most 
elementary calls of nature, on the Sabbath, was 
accounted a desecration of the holy day. Contact with 
unhallowed persons or objects was shunned by the 
Essenes as scrupulously as contact with an infected 
person or object is shunned by sane people in time 
of plague. They refused to taste food cooked, or to 
wear clothes made, by a non-member of the sect, or to 
use any implement that had not been manufactured by 
pure hands. Their life in consequence was largely spent 
in water. For whosoever was not an Essene was, in the 
eyes of these saints, a source of pollution. Thus godli- 
ness developed into misanthropy and cleanliness into 
a mania. Thus these holy men lived, turning away from 
the sorrows of the earth to the peace of an ideal heaven ; 
deriving patience with the present from apocalyptic 
promises of future glory; and waiting for the day when 
the unrighteous would be smitten to the dust, the dead 
rise from their graves, and the just be restored to ever- 
lasting bliss under the rule of the Redeemer — the Son of 
Man revealed to the holy and righteous because they 
have despised this world and hated all its works and 
ways in the name of the Lord of Spirits. Celibacy, 
seclusion, communion of goods, distinctive garb, abstin- 
ence, discipline and self-mortification, ecstatic rapture, 
sanctimonious pride and prejudice — all these Oriental 
traits, gradually matured and subsequently rejected in 


their exaggerated form from the main current of Judaism, 
marked the Essenes out as the prototypes of Christian 
monasticism, and as the most peculiar class of a very 
peculiar people. Could anything be more diametrically 
opposed to the genius of Hellas ? Despite Pythagorean 
asceticism and Orphic mysticism, enthusiastic ritual, 
symbolic purifications and emotional extravagances, 
Greek life was in the main sober, Greek culture 
intellectual, and the Greek mind eminently untheological. 

Those who delight in tracing racial temperament to 
physical environment may find in the contrast between the 
two countries an exceptionally favourable illustration of 
their theory. There is more variety of scenery in a 
single district of Greece than in the whole of Palestine. 
Grey rocks and green valleys, roaring torrents and placid 
lakes, sombre mountains and smiling vineyards, snow-clad 
peaks and sun-seared plains, glaring light and deep shade 
alternately come and go with a bewildering rapidity in the 
one country. In the other, from end to end, the plain 
spreads its calm, monotonous beauty to the everlasting 
sun, and the stately palms rear their heads to the blue 
heavens from year's end to year's end, severe, uniform, 
immutable. It is easy to understand why the one race 
should have drawn its inspiration from within and the 
other from without ; why the one should have sunk 
the individual in the community and the other sacrificed 
the community to the individual ; why the one should 
have worshipped the form and the other the spirit. It 
is especially easy to understand the Greek's inextinguish- 
able thirst for new things and the Jew's rigid attachment 
to the past. Everything in Greece suggests progress ; 
everything in Palestine spells permanence. 

The result of this fundamental discrepancy of character 
was such as might have been foreseen. The intense 
spirituality of the Jew was scandalised at the genial ration- 
alism and sensuousness of the pagan ; while the pagan, in 
his turn, was repelled by the morose mysticism and aus- 
terity of the Jew. History never repeats itself in. all 
particulars. But, so far as repetition is possible, it 
repeated itself many centuries after, when Puritanism — 


representing the nearest approach to the sad and stern 
Hebraic conception of life that the Western mind ever 
achieved — declared itself the enemy of Romanism, mainly 
because the latter retained so much of the pagan love for 
form and delight in things sensuous. Cromwell's Iron- 
sides illustrated this attitude by marching to battle singing 
the Psalms of the Hebrew bard. It is given to few 
mortals, blessed with a calm and truly catholic genius, 
to reconcile the rival attitudes, and, with Matthew 
Arnold, to recognise that " it is natural that man should 
take pleasure in his senses. It is natural, also, that he 
should take refuge in his heart and imagination from his 



The animosity between Jew and Gentile grew in intensity 
and bitterness under the Roman rule, and its growth was 
marked by various acts of mutual violence which finally 
resulted in the disruption of the Jewish State and the 
dispersion of the Jewish race over the inhabited globe. 
Already in the first half of the second century B.C. we find 
a praetor peregrinus ordering the Jews to leave the shores 
of Italy within ten days. This was only the commence- 
ment of a long series of similar measures, all indicative 
of the repugnance inspired by the Jewish colonists. The 

63 b.c. hostility was enhanced by Pompey's sack of Jerusalem 
and his severity towards the people and the priests of 
Palestine. Even in Rome, the hospitable harbour of 
countless races and creeds, there was no place for these 
unfortunate Semitic exiles, and their sojourn was punctu- 
ated by periodical expulsions. History is silent on the first 
settlement of Jews in the capital of the world, though the 
origin of their community may plausibly be traced to the 
embassy of Numenius. 1 In any case, at the time of 
Pompey's expedition they already had their own quarter 
in Rome, on the right bank of the Tiber, and their 
multitude and cohesion, even then, were such that a con- 
temporary writer did not hesitate to state that a Governor 
of Palestine, if unpopular in his province, might safely 
count on being hissed when he returned home. 

59 b.c. It was not long after that date that Cicero pleaded the 
cause of the Praetor Flaccus, accused of extortion during 
his government of Asia Minor. The Roman Jews took a 

1 Mac. xiv.-xv. 


keen interest in the case, and many of them crowded to 
the trial, for among other charges brought against the 
ex-praetor was that of having robbed the Temple of 
Jerusalem. When Cicero reached that count of the 
indictment, he gave eloquent testimony to the importance 
of the Jewish element in Rome, to the feelings which he, 
in common with others, entertained towards them, and to 
his own want of spirit. " Thou well knowest," says the 
orator, addressing the Prosecutor, " how great is their 
multitude, how great their concord, how powerful they 
are in our public assemblies. But I will speak in an 
undertone, so that none but the judges may hear. For 
there is no lack of individuals ready to incite those fellows 
against me and all honourable persons. But I will not 
help them to do so." Then, in a lowered voice Cicero 
proceeds to defend his client's conduct towards the " bar- 
barous superstition " of the Jews, and his patriotic defiance 
of the <c turbulent mob who invade our public assem- 
blies." " If Pompey," he says, " did not touch the 
treasures of the Temple, when he took Jerusalem, his 
forbearance was but another proof of his prudence : he 
avoided giving cause of complaint to so suspicious and 
slanderous a nation. It was not respect for the religion 
of Jews and enemies that hindered him, but regard for 
his own reputation. . . . Every nation has its own 
religion. We have ours. Whilst Jerusalem was yet 
unconquered, and the Jews lived in peace, even then they 
displayed a fanatical repugnance to the splendour of our 
state, the dignity of our name, and the institutions of our 
ancestors. But now the hatred which the race nourished 
towards our rule has been more clearly shown by force of 
arms. How little the immortal gods love this race has 
been proved by its defeat and by its humiliation." x 

Time did not heal the wound. Pompey had already 
amalgamated the Jewish kingdom in the Roman province 
of Syria and carried the last of the Hasmonaean princes 

1 Pro L. Flacco, 28. All the references made to the Jews and Judaism 
in Greek and Latin literature have been well collected and interpreted 
by T. Reinach in his Textes hauteurs grecs et romains relatlfs au Judaisme 
(Paris, 1895). 


captive to Rome. Five years later the proconsul Sabinius 
stripped the High Priest of the last shreds of civil 
authority and divided Judaea into five administrative 
57> 5 6 > 55 districts. Frequent insurrections broke out in Palestine, 
B - c - and were quelled with greater or less difficulty ; the last 

of them resulting in the robbery of the Temple of a 
great part of its riches by the Proconsul Marcus Crassus, 
while not long after the Quaestor Cassius, who acted as 
Governor after the death of Crassus, sold 30,000 dis- 
affected Jews into slavery ; and this state of things lasted 
till the fall of the Roman Republic. 
47 b.c. Julius Caesar, like Alexander, was not slow to realise the 

weight of the Jewish factor in the complex problem pre- 
sented by the conglomeration of nations which he had set 
himself to rule. The numbers of the Jews scattered 
throughout the Empire entitled them to serious considera- 
tion ; their wealth, their activity, and their unity rendered 
them worthy of conciliation. Moreover, Caesar, with the 
eye of a true statesman, saw that the representatives of this 
race, so capable of adapting themselves to new climatic and 
political conditions, and yet so tenacious of their peculiar 
characteristics, might help to promote that cosmopolitan 
spirit which was the soul of the Roman Empire. These 
considerations were further reinforced by feelings of 
gratitude; for Caesar had derived great assistance from 
the powerful Jewish politician Antipater during his 
Egyptian campaign. He, therefore, like his illustrious 
predecessor, granted to the Jews of Alexandria special 
privileges, shielding their cult from the attacks of the 
pagan priests, and affording them facilities for commerce, 
while in Palestine he reunited the five administrative 
districts under the authority of the High Priest and 
restored to the Jews some of the territory of which 
Pompey had deprived them. In Rome also Caesar 
manifested great friendship to the Jews. The Roman 
Jews showed that they were not insensible to these acts 
of kindness. At the tragic death of their benefactor they 
surpassed all other foreigners in their demonstrations of 
grief. Amidst the general lamentation, to which every 
race contributed its share after its own fashion, the Jews, 


we are told, distinguished themselves by waking and 
wailing beside the funeral pyre for many nights. 1 This 
spontaneous offering of sorrow on the part of the foreign 
subjects of Rome forms the best testimony to the nobility 
of Rome's greatest son. Caesar might well claim the 
title of Father of mankind. 

The end of Caesar's life proved also the end of the 44 re- 
consideration enjoyed by the Jews under his aegis. 
Augustus, indeed, unbent so far as to order that prayers 
for his prosperity should be offered up in the Temple of 
Jerusalem, and even established a fund for a perpetual 
sacrifice. But this was only an act of courtesy dictated by 
reasons of policy. His real feelings towards the Jews and 
their religion are better illustrated by his biographer's 
statement that, while treating the old-established cults 
with the reverence to which their antiquity and respecta- 
bility seemed to entitle them, " he held the others in 
contempt." Among the gods deemed unworthy of 
Imperial patronage were those of Egypt and Judaea. 
During his sojourn in the land of the Pharaohs Augustus 
refrained from turning aside to visit the temple of Apis. 
Nor was he more respectful towards Jehovah. On the 
contrary, " he commended his grandson Caius for not 
stopping, on his passage through Palestine, at Jerusalem to 
worship in the Temple." 2 The ancient writer's juxta- 
position of Apis and Jehovah, linked at last in common 
bondage, is as significant as it is quaint. 

Under the successors of Augustus the Jews of Rome 
had more than neglect to complain of. Their sup- 
pression appears to have been now regarded as a public 
duty. The biographer of Tiberius, in enumerating that 
emperor's virtues, among other proofs of patriotism, 
includes his persecution of the obnoxious race. After 
describing the measures taken against "outlandish cere- 
monies " generally, and how those given to Egyptian and 
Judaic superstitions were compelled to burn all their ritual 
vestments and implements, he proceeds to inform us 
calmly that u the Jewish youth, under pretence of having 
the military oath of allegiance administered to them, were 
1 Suetonius, Julius, 84. 2 Id. Augustus, 93. 


distributed over the most unhealthy provinces, while the 
rest of the race, or those who followed their cult, were 
banished from the city under pain of perpetual servitude if 
they disobeyed." x The indignation which these arbitrary 
measures must have stirred up among the Jews found 
vent in the following reign. The immediate cause of the 
explosion was Caligula's order that his own effigy should 
be placed in the Temple of Jerusalem and that divine 
honours should be paid to him throughout the empire — 
an order which, however natural it might have appeared 
to a Roman, outraged the vital principle of Hebrew 
monotheism. The result was stern and unanimous resist- 
ance on the part of the Jews, bloodshed being only 
4.1 a.d. averted by the imperial lunatic's opportune death. 2 

Meanwhile the Jews of Alexandria shared the woes of 
their brethren in Palestine and Rome. Their prosperity 
moved the envy of their Greek fellow-citizens, and the 
two elements had always met in a commercial rivalry for 
which they were not unequally matched. If Hebrew 
astuteness found its hero in Jacob, Odysseus formed a 
brilliant embodiment of Hellenic resourcefulness. Both 
characters are typical of their respective races. They are 
both distinguished not only by strong family affections, 
by a pathetic love of home when abroad and a passionate 
longing for travel when at home, by conjugal fidelity 
tempered by occasional lapses into its opposite, and by 
deep reverence for the divine, but also by a mastery of 
wiles and stratagems unsurpassed in any other national 
literature. It was, therefore, not surprising that the 
descendants of these versatile heroes should regard each 
other as enemies. The hostility was increased by social 
and religious antipathy and by the favours which the 
Greek kings of Egypt had always showered upon the 
Jews. The fables and calumnies originally invented by 
the Seleucid oppressors of Palestine spread to Egypt, 
where they were amplified by local wits. 

Under Augustus and Tiberius the lurking animosity 
was obliged to content itself with such food as the 
Greek genius for sarcasm and invective could afford ; 

1 Suetonius, Tiberius, 36. 2 Tacitus, Historia, v. 9. 


but the accession of Caligula supplied an opportunity 
for a more practical display of hatred. The Governor 
of Alexandria, being in disgrace with the new Emperor 
and afraid lest the Alexandrians should avail them- 
selves of the circumstance and lodge complaints against 
him in Rome, became a tool of their prejudices. Two 
unprincipled scribblers led the anti-Jewish movement. 
Insult and ridicule were succeeded by violence, and 
in the summer of 38 a.d. the synagogues of the 
Jews were polluted with the busts of the Emperor. 
The governor was induced to deprive the Jews of the 
civil rights which they had enjoyed so long, and the unfor- 
tunate people, thus reduced to the condition of outlaws, 
were driven out of the divisions of the city which they 
had hitherto occupied and forced to take up their abode 
in the harbour. Their dwellings were looted and sacked, 
the refugees were besieged by the mob in their new 
quarters, and those who ventured out were seized, tor- 
tured, and burnt or crucified. The persecution continued 
with intermittent vigour until the Jews resolved to send 
an embassy to Rome to plead their cause before the 
Emperor. One of the envoys was the famous Jewish 
Hellenist Philo. Caligula, however, declined to listen 
to rhetoric or reason ; but, on the contrary, he issued the 
order for his own deification, which, as has been seen, was 
frustrated only by his death. 

Caligula's successor Claudius favoured the Jews of 
Palestine for the sake of their King Agrippa, to whose 
diplomacy he owed in part his crown. But their brethren 
in Rome suffered another expulsion for "continually dis- 
turbing the peace under the instigation of Christ." l The 
confusion of the Christians with the Jews by the Roman 
writer is neither uncommon nor unintelligible. But, if 
the Christians were persecuted as a Jewish sect — secret 
and, therefore, suspected — the persecution of the Jews 
themselves was frequently due to their peculiar " super- 
stition." That, in common with other products of the 
East, had found its way to Rome, where it acquired 
great vogue and exercised a strange fascination, especially 

1 Suetonius, Claudius, 25. Cp. Acts, xviii. 2. 


among women and persons of the lower orders. Many- 
Gentiles visited the synagogues, and some of those 
who went to scoff remained to worship. Horace, writing 
in the time of Augustus, makes frequent mention of 
Judaism, 1 implying that it was spreading and that it 
formed the topic of conversation in fashionable circles; 
Josephus mentions a case of the conversion of a noble 
Roman lady in the reign of Tiberius; 2 Persius, under 
Caligula and Claudius, sneers at the muttered prayers and 
gloomy Sabbaths of the Jews and of Roman proselytes to 
Judaism ; 3 while Seneca, under Nero, declares that " to 
such an extent has the cult of that most accursed of races 
prevailed that it is already accepted all over the world: 
the vanquished have given laws to the victors." 4 Juvenal, 
writing in the time of Titus and Domitian, bears similar 
testimony to the prevalence of Judaism among the 
Romans, many of whom, especially the poor, observed the 
Jewish Sabbath and dietary laws, practised circumcision, 
and indulged in Hebrew rites generally. 5 To the Roman 
satirists these aberrations from good sense and good taste 
were a rich fountain of ridicule; but serious patriots 
regarded them with misgiving, as detrimental to public 
morality. Hence we usually find the expulsions of the 
Jews and the suppression of their cult accompanied by 
similar steps taken against Chaldean soothsayers, Egyptian 
sorcerers, Syrian priests, and other purveyors of rites per- 
nicious to the virtue of Roman men and women. 

Under Nero the hostility towards the Jews was tem- 
porarily diverted against the Christians, and, while the 
latter were ruthlessly made to pay with their lives for the 
Emperor's criminal aestheticism, the former enjoyed an 
immunity from persecution, partly secured by feminine 
influence at Court. But, while the Jews in the West 
were purchasing a precarious peace and a miserable 
triumph over the Christians, their brethren in the East 
were preparing for one of those periodical struggles for 
independence which move at once the horror and the 
admiration of the student of Jewish history. The Jews 
l Sat. i. 9, 69, etc. 2 Ant. 18. 3 (4). B Sat. v. 184 

4 Fgm. ap. Augustin., Civ. D. 6, 11. 5 Sat. xiv. 96-99, etc. 


could not bear the sight of the foreign despot in their 
country. His presence in Jerusalem was a daily insult to 
Jehovah. The reverses which they had hitherto sustained 
in their single-combat with the masters of the world had 
not damped their desire for freedom. Disaster, far from 
crushing, seemed to invigorate their courage. And for 
the sake of the Idea they were ready to jeopardise the 
security and material comfort which they generally 
enjoyed under the equitable and tolerant rule of the 
Romans. In the eyes of the zealots the sensible attitude 
of the higher classes, which acquiesced in the existing 
state of affairs, — an attitude shared by famous Rabbis such 
as Jochanan son of Zakkai who re-founded Judaism when 
the Temple fell — was nothing less than treachery to the 
national cause. It was felt that, if no attempt were made 
to check the "seductive arts of Rome," the whole race 
would gradually sink into spiritual apathy. Bands of 
irreconcilables were, as in the time of the Seleucids, 
scattered about the country and set the example of 
insubordination by frequent attacks on the Romans and 
their partisans. These patriots were bound by a vow 
to spare no one who bended the knee to the hated 
foreigner, and they fulfilled it with all the scrupulous 
cruelty which characterises the vows of enthusiasts. The 
pursuit of personal profit, as not unfrequently happens, 
was combined with the pursuit of patriotism, and there 
soon appeared a secret revolutionary association whose 
emissaries insinuated themselves into the very precincts of 
the Temple and there struck down those who had 
incurred their wrath. Sporadic assassination was gradu- 
ally organised into a regular conspiracy, and the murderers 
of yesterday were now ennobled by the appellation of 
rebels. The voices of prudence and moderation were 
drowned in the clamour of patriotism ; the peace party 
was terrorised into a zeal for liberty which it was far from 
feeling, and the standard of rebellion was unfurled. 66 t 

In the meantime Alexandria witnessed another explo- 
sion of the Graeco-Jewish feud. The Greeks determined 
to petition Nero for the withdrawal of the rights of 
citizenship restored to the Jews by Claudius. A 


public meeting was held in order to select the ambassa- 
dors who were to carry the petition to Rome. Some 
Jews were discovered in the amphitheatre where the 
meeting was held, and three of them were dragged by the 
mob through the streets. Their co-religionists, fired with 
indignation, rushed to the amphitheatre, threatening to 
commit it and the assembled Greeks to the flames. The 
Governor attempted to pacify the crowd ; but, being 
himself a renegade Jew, he had little influence over his 
former brethren, who cast his apostasy in his teeth. 
Enraged thereat, he let his legions loose upon the Jewish 
quarter. This was soon converted into an inferno of 
multiform brutality, wherein fifty thousand Jews are said 
to have miserably perished. 

To return to Palestine. The revolt against the Roman 
rule, begun in 66 a.d., ended in the famous fall of 
70 a.d. Jerusalem four years later. The desperate obstinacy 
Sept. 7. Q f ^g defence, and the terrible barbarity which had 
disgraced the rising, provoked the conquerors to pitiless 
retaliation. The holy city, which had once been "the 
joy of the whole earth " and God's own habitation, 
was no more. Zion lay deserted. Her sons were slain, 
and her daughters sold into slavery and shame. And the 
Prophet's words seemed to have come true : " Her gates 
shall lament and mourn ; and she, being desolate, shall 
sit upon the ground." 1 Those Jews who had not been 
put to death or driven forth to seek a refuge among their 
brethren, already scattered over the East and West, were 
preserved to accompany Titus to Rome as prisoners of 
war, to supply food for the wild beasts of the arena, 
victims for the gladiators' sword in the amphitheatre, and 
amusement for the sporting public of the capital of the 
world. Most awful calamity of all, the Temple of Zion 
— the sanctuary in which the pride and the hope of the 
whole race centred — was doomed to the flames, and its 
contents were carried off to grace the pagan victor's 
triumph. Among these treasures, hallowed by the 
veneration of fifteen centuries, were the shittim wood 
table and the seven-branched candlestick of pure gold, 

1 Isaiah iii. 26. 


both wrought out of the liberal offerings which the 
children of Israel had brought to Moses for the service of 
the tabernacle, at the bidding of God in the desert. 
They were the works of wise-hearted men of old, selected 
for the task by the Lord Himself, and instructed thereto 
by His spirit. For nearly four centuries these spoils of 
Zion served to adorn the Roman Temple of Peace, until 
an avenger arose and, having dealt with Rome as Rome 
had dealt with Jerusalem, transferred them to Carthage. 

This national catastrophe, commemorated as it was for 
all time on the imperishable marbles of the triumphal 
arch of Titus, left an indelible impression on the mind of 
Israel. It aroused the strongest feelings of the Hebrew 
nature, and fixed a chasm between Jew and Gentile 
which even the lapse of long centuries proved unable to 
bridge. The conqueror's name was handed down the ages 
as a synonym for everything that is monstrous and 
horrible, and his language was tabooed even in epitaphs, 
the tombs in the Jewish catacombs at Rome bearing few 
Latin inscriptions, though Greek ones abound. 

Here we may pause to enquire into the causes of this 
persistent warfare. 



Over and above the two great causes of the unpopularity 
of the Jew, already adduced, namely, man's intolerance 
of dissent, and the antipathy between the European and 
the Asiatic, there was another and more obvious barrier to 
a good understanding between the two elements — one 
sin which the Gentile could not pardon in the Jew: 
the Jew's infatuated arrogance — that contempt for all men 
born outside the pale of the Synagogue, which national 
humiliation, instead of effacing, had deepened and 
embittered. It was this provincial spirit that had pre- 
vented the message of Moses from spreading abroad, as 
the message of Jesus and the message of Mohammed 
spread in after times. It was the same spirit that now 
forbade the Jew to feel at home in the presence of the 
Gentile. Judaism has always lacked the magnetic attrac- 
tion of Christianity and Islam, not because the rule of life 
which it prescribes is less pure, or the prospect of peace 
which it holds out less alluring to the heart that yearns 
for rest, but because, unlike Christianity and Islam, it 
deliberately repels instead of inviting outsiders. The 
doors of Moses's heaven are jealously closed to the 
stranger; and those who have entered into it have at no 
time been more numerous than those who have come out 
of it. When Jehovah ceased to be the God of a clan, he 
became the God of a nation, but he could not, and would 
not, become the God of mankind. In spite of periodical 
attempts made by individual prophets and Rabbis to soar 
above the barriers of narrow nationalism, and to infuse 
their own noble spirit into the teaching of their prede- 


cessors and into the minds of their contemporaries, in spite, 
also, of the broadening of the conception of the divine, 
due to contact with the sublime religion of Babylon, 
Jehovah, to the ordinary Jew, remained an essentially 
tribal god. His interests continued to be bound up with 
the interests of the chosen people. An elaborate fence of 
ceremonial and custom separated this people from all other 
peoples. On leaving their native soil the Jews carried 
away with them all the spiritual pride and all the pious 
prejudices which distinguished their ancestors. A wider 
knowledge of the world and its inhabitants failed to 
broaden their sympathies. Intermarriage with the Gentiles 
was prohibited as strictly as ever, in obedience to the old 
commandment : " Neither shalt thou make marriages 
with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his 
son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son." 1 
And so it came to pass that, while they appeared to 
the Gentile a strange and unsocial species of men, 
to them the Gentile continued to be an unclean animal. 
Had it not been for its stern and exclusive spirit, the 
Hebrew cult might have excited the derision or the scorn- 
ful curiosity of the Pagans, but it would have hardly been 
made the object of systematic attack. The Jews would 
have continued their eccentric worship of cc the sky and 
the clouds" 2 unmolested, though unrespected, and their 
Temple, with all its uncanny " emptiness," 3 would have 
remained standing; for Paganism was nothing if not 
tolerant. The religion of classical antiquity was a matter 
of convention rather than of conviction. The earnest and 
"the unhappy sought solace in philosophy; the masses 
in superstition. Philosophy did not degenerate into 
theology, but left theology to the poets who, unfettered 
by doctrine, created or transformed the popular deities 
and legends, purging or perverting them according to the 
promptings of their own imagination, or the requirements 
of their art. The priests in pagan society counted for 
less than the poets. The word " heresy " in pagan Greece 
meant simply " free choice," and later " a philosophical 

1 Deuter. vii. 3 ; Nehem. xiii. 25. 2 Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 97. 

3 Tacitus, Hist. v. 9. 


school." The terms "orthodox" and "heterodox" had 
hardly as yet acquired their invidious meaning. Religious 
rancour, that baneful mother of manifold misery to man- 
kind, was not yet born. There is no parallel in antiquity 
to that unremitting and systematic war of creeds by which, 
in later ages, men tried to crush those who disagreed with 
them in matters of metaphysical conjecture. Tolerance 
and speculative freedom were never better understood 
than in pagan Greece and Rome. The Pagan was con- 
tent to navigate his own ship by his own compass — whether 
of head or of heart — without insisting that every one else 
should adopt the same compass, or be drowned. The 
total absence of dogma, which forms at once the charm 
and the foible of polytheism, while precluding persecution, 
encouraged a free exchange of religious traditions, not 
only between sister nations, as the Greek and the Italian, 
but even between entirely foreign and even hostile races. 
Thus, while the Latin writers hastened, more or less 
successfully, to identify the deities of Italy with those of 
Hellas, Greek travellers in the East, from Herodotus 
onwards, habitually sought and found, or imagined that 
they found, common attributes between the divinities of 
Olympus and those of Memphis and Sidon. Frequent 
intercourse facilitated the work of assimilation, and not 
only specific attributes but whole gods and goddesses 
found their way from one pagan country to another, where 
they were welcomed. The doors of the Pantheon stood 
hospitably open to all comers. 

In this religious brotherhood of nations there was one 
disturbing unit : one race alone stubbornly and offensively 
declined to join the concert. The Jews held that their 
own religion was wholly true ; the religions of others 
were wholly false. They arrogantly boasted that they 
alone were God's people. They believed themselves to be 
in league with the Creator of the Universe, sharing His 
secrets and monopolising His favours; for had not the 
Lord entered into a solemn and everlasting covenant with 
Abraham ? It was they whom the Lord had selected to 
be a holy and special people unto Himself, above all 
peoples that are upon the face of the earth : " Ye are my 


witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servants whom I have 
chosen." It was for them that the laws of Nature had 
been suspended ; that the sea was made dry land ; that 
the heavens rained manna, and the rocks gave forth 
water ; that mounts had quaked ; that the sun and moon 
had stood still, and the walls of cities fallen down flat at 
the sound of the trumpet. It was for them that prophets 
and inspired men had revealed the oracles and the will of 

If the Pagan was ready to forgive Jewish eccentricity, 
no man could tolerate Jewish intolerance ; and the resent- 
ment which the Jew's aloofness aroused in the breast even 
of the educated Gentile is palpable in the pages of many 
ancient authors. Only three Greek writers make a 
favourable mention of the Jews, the most eminent 
among them being Strabo the geographer. He, curiously 
enough, speaks with admiration of the spiritual worship 
of Jehovah as contrasted with the monstrous idolatry of 
Egypt and the anthropomorphic idolatry of Greece. 
Less curious, but no less rare, is the writer's appre- 
ciation of the moral excellence of the Mosaic Law and 
his reverence for the Temple of Jerusalem. Strabo's 
liberal attitude, however, was not shared by the 
Romans. They are emphatic and unanimous in their 
condemnation of Judaism — Horace, Juvenal, Persius, 
Pliny, and, above all, Tacitus. The great historian 
seems to give utterance to a common sentiment in 
denouncing the rites of the Jews as " novel and contrary 
to the ideas of other mortals." He accuses the followers 
of Moses " of holding profane all things that to us are 
sacred; and, on the other hand, of indulging in things 
which to us are forbidden." 1 The Hebrew horror of 
the worship of images and of the deification of ancestors 
and Emperors, as exemplified by the fierce storm which 
Caligula's mad order to have his own statue set up in the 
Temple raised, gave great oifence to the Romans ; while 
the Jewish marriage laws, which permitted a brother to 
wed his deceased brother's wife and an uncle his own 
niece, could not but be considered by the Romans as a 
x Hist. v. 4. 


sanction of incest. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at 
that the severe moralist should brand Mosaic institutions 
as "evil and disgusting, owing their prevalence to their 
very depravity." Likewise, the national movement 
which, as already mentioned, under the splendid leader- 
ship of the Maccabees resulted in the liberation of the 
Hebrew mind from the tyranny of Hellenism to Tacitus is 
nothing more than a wicked rebellion against the Mace- 
donian Kings' laudable efforts to improve the morals of 
their subjects by the introduction of Greek civilisation. 
It cannot be denied that the victory of the national party 
was brought about by " expulsions of citizens, destructions 
of cities, massacres of brothers, wives and parents," and 
other atrocities in which the leaders freely indulged ; but it 
certainly is less than the whole truth to assert that the move- 
ment had for its selfish object the restoration to authority 
of a royal family which, when restored, fomented supersti- 
tion with a view to " using the influence of the priesthood 
as a prop of its own power." x Even the good points in 
the character of the Jews, " their unswerving loyalty to 
their own kith and kin and their prompt benevolence," 
which the truthful Tacitus acknowledges, are in his eyes 
vitiated by " their hostility and hatred towards all aliens," 2 
and to him, as to so many of his compatriots and con- 
temporaries, the Jews are " a most vile race," and the 
Christian sect of them, at all events, "the enemies of 
mankind." 3 

This common estimate of the Jew was, of course, very 
largely based on an ignorance of Jewish life and religion 
that would be ridiculous but for its terrible consequences. 
As early as 169 B.C. we hear of the blood accusation 
which is still brought against the Jews by their enemies. 
When Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple of 
Jerusalem, among other fables that he and his partisans 
promulgated, it was rumoured that there was found in 
the sanctuary a Greek kept for a sacrificial purpose by the 
priests who were said to be in the habit of killing a 
Greek every year and of feeding on his intestines. On 
the other hand, the Jews never did anything to dispel the 

1 Hist. v. 8. 2 lb. 5. Cp. Juv. Sat. xiv. 103-4. 3 -dnnales, xv. 44. 


ignorance which rendered such grotesque myths credible. 
If the advocate of the Jew is inclined to charge the 
Gentile with intolerance, the advocate of the latter is 
amply justified in retorting the charge. A race which 
avoided the places of public amusement as scenes of 
immorality and idolatry could not but be considered 
morose and unsocial; a race which, especially after the 
destruction of the Temple, banished mirth and music 
even from its wedding feasts, would naturally be shunned 
as sullen and suspected as fit for treasons, stratagems 
and spoils ; a race which would " neither eat nor sleep 
nor intermarry with strangers " might expect to be 
represented as "most prone to lust" and as holding 
" nothing unlawful amongst themselves." The outward 
signs of Jewish aloofness were evident to the most careless 
gaze; the inward, spiritual beauty, and the moral worth 
of Judaism were not so easily recognised. Thus, pre- 
judiced views, born of Pagan ignorance and nourished 
by Hebrew intolerance, created a volume of animosity 
which, as has already been seen, cost its object many 
sorrows. But worse things were yet to come. 



The struggle for freedom already narrated and its ruth- 
less suppression were not calculated to diminish the Jew's 
unpopularity at Rome. Under the successors of Titus 
we have fresh persecutions to chronicle. The Jews were 
heavily taxed, and heathen proselytes to Judaism were 
punished with loss of property, with exile, or with death 
— penalties from which not even kinship with the 
Emperor could save the culprit. At last the Jews, driven 
94 a.d. from the city by an edict of Domitian, were forced to live 
in the valley of Egeria which was grudgingly let out to 
them. This valley, once green with a sacred grove famed 
in legend as the place where "King Numa kept nightly 
tryst with his divine mistress," was now notorious as a 
desolation of malarious mud deposited by the overflow of 
the Tiber. In this miserable locality the Jews were 
allowed to build their Proseucka, or house for prayer — a 
rally ing-point for a congregation of poor wretches "whose 
basket and wisp of hay are all their furniture." 1 Thus 
Juvenal in one luminous line draws a picture as vivid as 
it is repulsive of the condition of Israel at Rome towards 
the end of the first century of our era. It may be added 
that the same edict which drove the Jews from Rome also 
expelled the philosophers, among them Epictetus. 

A streak of light amid general gloom is shed by the 
reign of Domitian's successor. Nerva was one of the few 
Emperors who knew how to reconcile absolute power 
with personal freedom, and the Jews shared with the rest 
of his subjects those blessings of justice and liberty that 
1 Juv. Sat. iii. 12-14. 


induced Tacitus to celebrate his short reign as the begin- Sept. 96— 
ning of an era in which " one was permitted to think -J an- 9 8 - 
what he chose and to say what he thought." * The Jews 
were allowed to worship their God in peace, and the fiscal 
tyranny under which they laboured was lightened. 
Nerva's toleration is commemorated by a coin bearing on 
the reverse the Jewish symbol of a palm-tree and the 
inscription Fisci Judaici calumnia sub lata. 

However, kindness had as little effect upon the Jews as 
cruelty. Their religious and national antipathy to the 
alien ruler blinded them to the benefits of Roman admini- 
stration. The memory of their defeat rankled, and the 
desire for emancipation was intensified by hunger for 
revenge. The prosperity of the present was valued only 
inasmuch as it enabled them to avenge their sufferings in 
the past. Their subjection was regarded merely as a trial 
and as a sign of the approaching advent of the Deliverer 
destined to rebuild the Temple and to raise the children 
of Israel to the sovereignty of the world — the Messiah 
whom the Lord had promised to His people through the 
prophets of old. The forty years that had elapsed since 
the capture of Jerusalem by Titus were for the Jews 
of the Empire at large years of comparative rest and 
recovery. All the strength gathered during that period 
was now put forth in a last desperate dash for freedom. 

The Babylonian Jews gave the signal for the holy war 
by opposing the Emperor Trajan's plans of conquest in 115 A - D - 
Mesopotamia. Thence the insurrection rapidly spread to 
Palestine, Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus. In every one of 
these countries the infuriated rabble fell upon their neigh- 
bours, whom the suddenness and unexpectedness of the 
attack rendered an easy prey to the rage of the assailants. 
If one tenth of the tales of horror related by Dion 
Cassius be true, it is sufficient to explain the hatred 
inspired by the Jews in after times, and to extenuate, if 
not to justify, the terrible retribution which followed. 
Two hundred and twenty thousand Greeks and Romans 
were, according to Dion, butchered in Cyrene. Lybia 
was utterly devastated. Two hundred and forty thousand 
*Hist. i. 1. 


Greeks were slaughtered in Cyprus. Great numbers of 
Greek and Roman heathens and Christians perished in 
Egypt, and many of the victims were sawed asunder 
after the fashion set by David, and afterwards imitated 
by the Mohammedan conqueror of the Balkan Peninsula. 
It is even added that the butchers, not satiated by the 
mere sight of the mangled bodies, devoured the flesh, 
licked up the blood, girded themselves with the entrails, 
and wrapped themselves in the skins of their victims — 
abominations which are only credible to one familiar with 
the treatment mutually meted out by the inhabitants of 
the Near East at the present day. 1 
117 a.d. The insurrection was quelled, and temporary calm 
restored, by Trajan's successor, Hadrian, who appears to 
have yielded to the Jews' demand for the rebuilding of 
the Temple. The Emperor's assent was received with 
wild enthusiasm. The Jews believed that the day of 
national rehabilitation had come : 

" No more the death sound of the trumpet's cry — 
No more they perish at the foe's rash hands ; 
But trophies shall float in the world o'er evil. 
Dear Jewish land ! fair town, inspirer of songs, 
No more shall unclean foot of Greeks within thy bounds 
Go forth." 2 

Thus sang an unknown Jewish poet of Alexandria, 
venting his spleen against the Greeks in Greek verse. 
But the dreamers were rudely awakened. The Emperor 
was not slow to perceive that the restoration of the 
Temple would mean a perpetuation of the Jewish 
problem. He, therefore, qualified his original concession 
by terms which were not acceptable to the Jews. Their 
bitter disenchantment and their hatred of Hadrian were 
130 a.d. concealed for a while. The Emperor visited Palestine 
and endeavoured to conciliate the Jews by bringing them 

1 It is, however, only fair to add that the Jewish records know nothing 
of these atrocities, and, as M. Reinach justly comments, the above details 
(for which Dion Cassius is our sole authority) " inspirent la mefiance." 
The numbers of the victims, as reported by Dion, are in themselves 
sufficient to throw doubt upon the story. 

2 H. Graetz, History of the Jews, Eng. tr. vol. ii. p. 405. 


into closer contact with the Pagans. But he unfortunately- 
adopted towards that end the very means calculated to 
defeat it. He proposed to rebuild Jerusalem on a plan 
which the Jews regarded as a deliberate desecration. He 
did not understand that what the nation wanted was not 
fusion with the foreigners but rigid separation from them. 
Again the Jews concealed their feelings; and while the 
deluded Emperor wrote to the Senate at home praising 
the peaceful disposition and loyalty of this much-maligned 
people, they were preparing for a fresh revolt. Arms were 
manufactured and hidden in underground passages, secret 
means of communication were established, and Hadrian 
had scarcely turned his back on Jerusalem when the Jews 
once more "lifted themselves up to establish a vision." 13 2 a.d. 

The rebellion was headed by Bar-Cochba, in whom the 
enthusiastic mob recognised the prophesied Messiah and 
round whose standard they rallied in force sufficient to 
defy the Imperial legions for two years. The Jewish 
Christians, who refused to recognise the new Messiah and 
to take part in the holy war, were remorselessly persecuted, 
and the rebellion blazed from one end of the country to 
the other. However, Hadrian's army, under the able 
command of Julius Severus and of the Emperor himself, 
prevailed in the end. Bar-Cochba was defeated, and the 135 A - D - 
last sparks of the insurrection were extinguished beneath 
mountains of corpses. It is reckoned (though these 
figures are scarcely trustworthy) that no fewer than 
five hundred and eighty thousand Jews succumbed to the 
sword during the war, in addition to an unknown multi- 
tude starved or burnt to death. Palestine was turned into 
a wilderness. All the fortresses were demolished, and 
nearly one thousand towns and villages lay in ashes. The 
destruction of the Jewish State, commenced by Titus, was 
accomplished by Hadrian. The spot upon which the 
proud Temple had once stood was now defiled by the 
plough, and all the holy sites were devoted to idols. The 
Samaritans shared the ruin of their secular enemies. 
Mount Gerizim also was polluted by a shrine to Jupiter, 
while on Mount Golgotha, where a century before the 
awful crime had been committed, a fane was dedicated to 


the Goddess of Lust. A pagan colony of Phoenician 
and Syrian soldiers, who had served their time, occupied 
part of Jerusalem,' the very name of which was soon 
forgotten in that of Aelia Capitolina. Judaism was inter- 
dicted under heavy penalties, and the Jews were forbidden 
to enter the city of their fathers. The Babylonian cap- 
tivity had been to the children of Israel only a fatherly 
rod ; but this last calamity proved their utter ruin. 
Henceforth they are doomed to wander among the 
sons of men, a sign and a scorn to the nations of the 

The slaughter ceased as soon as there ceased to be any 
rebels to slay. A period of compulsion and persecution, 
as the Jewish writers term it, ensued; but the fear of 
further trouble having disappeared once and for ever, the 
Romans forgot their anger. Though Israel had been 
extinguished as a state it was suffered to live as a sect. 
The throne had perished; but the altar remained. At first 
danger induced the Jews to compromise and to dissemble. 
A council of Rabbis, secretly held at Lydda, decided 
that death by torture might be avoided by the breach 
of all the commandments, except the three vital prohibi- 
tions of idolatry, adultery, and murder. But the reign of 
terror and hypocrisy did not last long. Under Antoninus 

138 a.d. Pius most of Hadrian's decrees were revoked, and a 
new " red-letter day " was added to the Jewish Calendar. 
Though still forbidden to enter Jerusalem, the Jews were 
allowed to return to Palestine. Both in Italy and in the 
provinces of the Empire they enjoyed all the privileges 
that had been conferred on their fathers by the best of 
Antoninus's predecessors. While admitted to the dignities, 
and sometimes to the emoluments, of municipal life on 
terms of equality with their fellow-subjects, they were 
suffered to maintain their social and religious inde- 
pendence under the jurisdiction of a patriarch whose seat 
was at Tiberias, and who exercised his authority and 
collected an annual tribute through his representatives in 
each colony. 

The follies of some Emperors proved as beneficial to 

2 1 8-222 a.d. the Jews as the wisdom of others. Heliogabalus carried 


his superstitious veneration for the Mosaic Law to the 

length of circumcision and abstinence from pork. The 

Syrian Emperor Alexander Severus, nicknamed by the 222-235 a.d. 

Greeks Archisynagogos, or Head of the Synagogue, 

expressed his eclectic friendliness to Judaism by placing in 

his private apartment a picture of Abraham next to those 

of Orpheus and Christ, and by causing the Jewish moral 

maxim, " Do not unto others what thou wouldst not that 

others did unto you," to be engraven on the Imperial 

palace and on the public buildings. During this reign 

the Jewish Patriarch possessed an almost royal authority, 

and Hadrian's decrees, which forbade the Jews to enter 

Jerusalem and to exercise the functions of judges, were 


Under the circumstances, Israel throve and multiplied 
apace. Synagogues sprang up in every important city in 
the Empire, and the Jews fasted and feasted without fear 
and often without moderation. Tolerance begot tolerance. 
Religious zeal, unopposed, lost much of its bitterness, and 
the Jews gradually reconciled themselves to their new 
position. Their hatred of the Pagan was almost forgotten 
in their hatred of the Christian ; and, while they helped 
in the occasional persecution of the latter, they aped the 
manners of the former. The ladies of the Jewish 
Patriarch's family esteemed it an honour to be allowed to 
dress their hair according to the Roman fashion and to 
learn Greek. The Jewish laws forbidding Hellenic art 
and restricting the intercourse with the Gentiles ceased to 
be enforced. But nothing shows the extent and the depth 
of the repugnance which the Gentile inspired in the Jew 
more clearly than the fact that the abrogation of the law 
of the Synagogue, which prohibited the use of the oil of 
the heathens, was regarded as so daring an innovation that 
the Babylonian Jews at first refused to believe the report. 
Bread made by the heathens continued to be tabooed. 

The faith in the coming of the Messiah, indeed, was 
still as firmly held as ever. But, in the absence of 
persecution, from a definite expectation it faded into a 
pleasantly vague hope. While cherishing their dream for 
the future, the Jews were sensible enough not to neglect 


the realities of the present. The subjugation of the earth 
by force of arms might come in God's good time ; mean- 
while they resolved to achieve its conquest by force of 
wit ; and it was then that they developed that commercial 
dexterity and laid the foundations of that financial 
supremacy which have earned them the envy of the 
Gentiles, and which, in after ages, were destined to cost 
them so much suffering. Their skill and their know- 
ledge, their industry and their frugality, ensured to them 
a speedy success. By the end of the third century their 
European colonies had spread from Illyria in the East to 
Spain in the West, to Gaul and the provinces of the 
Rhine in the North; and it appears that, though trade, 
including trade in slaves, was their principal occupation, 
their prosperity in many of these settlements was also 
derived to some small extent from agriculture and the 
handicrafts. The civil and military services were also 
indebted to their talents, and, in a word, these Semitic 
exiles, though their peculiar customs were mercilessly 
ridiculed on the stage, could have none but a sentimental 
regret for the loss of Palestine. Their position in the 
Roman Empire at this period was a prototype of the 
position which they have since held in the world at large i 
" Everywhere and nowhere at home, and everywhere and. 
nowhere powerful." x ,-cau 

But the calm was not to last, and signs of the long 
terrible tempest, which was to toss the ship of Israel ia 
after years, were already visible on the horizon. 

1 Mommsen, History of Rome, Eng. tr. vol. iv. p. 64.2. 



In dream I saw two Jews that met by chance, 
One old, stern-eyed, deep-browed, yet garlanded 
With living light of love around his head, 
The other young, with sweet seraphic glance. 

Around went on the Town's satanic dance, 
Hunger a-piping while at heart he bled. 
Shalom Aleichem, mournfully each said, 
Nor eyed the other straight but looked askance. 

— Israel Zangwill. 

Christianity, long despised and persecuted, had by slow 
yet steady steps made its way among the nations, until 
from a creed of slaves it was raised by Constantine to the 
sovereignty of the Roman world. The cross from being 323 a.d. 
an emblem of shame became the ensign of victory, and 
the great church of the Resurrection, built by the first 
Christian Emperor on the hill of Calvary, proclaimed to 
mankind the triumph of the new religion. But the 
gospel which was intended to inculcate universal peace, 
charity, and good-will among men brought nothing but 
new causes of discord, cruelty, and rancour. Apostles 
and missionaries are apt to imagine that religion is every- 
thing and national character nothing, that men are formed 
by the creeds which they profess, and that, if you extended 
to all nations the same doctrines, you would produce in 
all the same dispositions. The history of religion, how- 
ever, conclusively demonstrates that it is not churches 
which form men, but men who form churches. An idea 
when transplanted into foreign soil, in order to take root 
and bear fruit, must first adapt itself to the conditions of 


the soil. The nations of the West in embracing Christ's 
teaching assimilated from it only as much as was congenial 
to them and conveniently overlooked the rest. Mercy — 
the essence of the doctrine — was sacrificed to the passions 
of the disciples. Henceforth the old warfare between 
Jew and Gentile is to manifest itself chiefly as a struggle 
between the Synagogue and the Church, between the 
teaching of the New Hebrew Prophet and the Old 
Hebrew Prophet, so beautifully imagined by a modern 
Jewish writer in the lines quoted above. 

The Jews were told that the observances of the Mosaic 
Law were instituted on account of the hardness of their 
hearts and were no longer acceptable in the sight of God ; 
that the circumcision of the spirit had superseded the 
circumcision of the flesh ; that faith, and not works, is 
the key to eternal life ; that their national calamities were 
judgments for their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus ; 
and that their only hope of peace in this world and of 
salvation in the next lay in conversion. Nor was the 
enmity towards the Jews confined to refutation of their 
doctrines and attempts at persuasion. The Jews had 
always been held by the Christians responsible for all the 
persecutions and calumnies with which their sect had been 
assailed. " The other nations," says Justin to his Jewish 
collocutor in 140 a.d., " are not so much to blame for this 
injustice towards us and Christ as you, the cause of their 
evil prejudice against Him and us, who are from Him. 
After the crucifixion and resurrection you sent forth 
chosen men from Jerusalem throughout the earth, say- 
ing that there has arisen a godless heresy, that of the 
Christians." x The accusation is repeated, among others, 
by Origen : " The Jews who at the commencement of 
the teaching of Christianity spread evil reports of the 
Word, that, forsooth, the Christians sacrifice a child and 
partake of its flesh, and also that they in their love for 
deeds of darkness extinguish the lights and indulge in 
promiscuous incest." 2 Here we find the sufferings of 
Christ linked to the sufferings of His followers ; the crime 
of the Pharisees associated with those of their descendants ; 
1 Just. Mart. Dial. xvii. 2 c Cels. vi. 27. 


and, in defiance of the essential tenet of Christianity, and 
of the sublime example of its author, the sins of the 
fathers are now to be visited upon the children. The 
Christians, while gratifying their own lust for revenge, 
flattered themselves that they avenged the wrongs of 
Christ ; by oppressing the Jews they were convinced that 
they carried out the decrees of Providence. Thus pious 
vindictiveness was added to the other and older motives 
of hatred — a new ring to the plant of anti-Judaism. But 
for the existence of those other motives of hatred, with 
which theology had little or nothing to do, the theo- 
logical odium henceforth bestowed upon the Jews would 
have been merely preposterous. The founder of Christi- 
anity, Himself a Jew, had appeared to His own people 
as the Messiah whom they eagerly expected and with 
.all the divine prophecies concerning whose advent they 
were thoroughly familiar. They investigated His creden- 
tials and, as a nation, they were not satisfied that He 
was what His followers claimed Him to be. Instead of 
remembering that His Jewish fellow-countrymen were, 
after all, the most competent to form a judgment of 
their new Teacher, as they had done in the case of other 
inspired Rabbis and prophets, the Christians proceeded 
to insult and outrage them for having come to the 
conclusion that He failed to fulfil the conditions required 
by their Scriptures. St. Jerome, though devoted to the 
study of Hebrew, expressed his hatred of the race in 
forcible language. Augustine followed in his older 
contemporary's footsteps, and abhorrence of the Jews 
became an article of faith, sanctioned by these oracles 
of Orthodoxy and acted upon by the pious princes of 
later times. 

At first Constantine had placed the religion of the Jews 
on a footing of equality with those of the other subject 
nations. But his tolerance vanished at his conversion. 
Under his reign, the Jews were subjected to innumerable 
restrictions and extortions ; the faithful were forbidden 
to hold any intercourse with the murderers of Christ, 
and all the gall which could be spared from the sectarian 
feuds within the fold of the Church was poured upon 


the enemy outside. Judaism was branded as a godless 
sect, and its extermination was advocated as a religious 
duty. The apostasy of Christians to Judaism was 
punished severely, while the apostasy of Jews to Christi- 
anity was strenuously encouraged, and the Synagogue 
was deprived of the precious privilege of persecution 
which henceforth was to be the exclusive prerogative 
of the Church. The edict of Hadrian, which for- 
bade the Jews to live in Jerusalem, was re-enacted by 
Constantine, who only allowed them on the anniversary 
of the destruction of the Temple to mourn on its 
ruins — for a consideration. 

But the real persecution did not commence until the 

337 accession of Constantius. Then the Rabbis were banished, 
marriages between Jews and Christian women were 
punished with death, and so was the circumcision of 
Christian slaves ; while the communities of Palestine 
suffered terrible oppression at the hands of the Emperor's 

352 cousin Gallus, and were goaded to a rebellion which ended 
in the extirpation of many thousands and the destruction 
of many cities. But the Jews endured all these calamities 
with the patience characteristic of their race, until relief 
came from an unexpected quarter. 

In 361 Julian, whom the Church stigmatised by the 
title of Apostate, ascended the throne of Constantine the 
Great. Julian's ambition was to banish the worship of 
the Cross from his Empire, to reform paganism and to 
restore it to its ancient glory. Brought up under wise 
Greek teachers, he was early imbued with a profound 
love and reverence for the beliefs and customs of 
Hellas. He felt strongly the instinctive repugnance of 
the Hellenic spirit to Oriental modes of thought. The 
Christian creed repelled him, and the pathos of Christ's 
career left him unmoved. To Julian Jesus was simply 
the "dead Jew." His philosophical attachment to 
paganism and contempt for " the religion of the 
Galileans" were strengthened by his experience of the 
Christian tutors to whom his later education had been 
entrusted by his cousin Constantius. While in his 
cousin's power, Julian had been forced to conceal his 


views and to observe outwardly the rules of a creed 
which he despised. Compulsory conformity deepened 
his resentment towards the Christian Church, without, 
however, blinding him to the beauty of the principle 
of toleration which she denied. Although, on becoming 
Emperor, he favoured those who remained faithful to 
the old religion, Julian did not oppress the followers 
of the new, holding that the intrinsic superiority of 
paganism would eventually secure its triumph. His 
confidence was misplaced. The classical ritual was no 
longer acceptable to serious men, and the Neo-Platonic 
mysticism which endeavoured to transform sensuous 
polytheism into a spiritual philosophy possessed no attrac- 
tion for the multitude. Christianity had adopted enough 
of pagan speculation to conciliate the educated and more 
than enough of pagan practice to satisfy the ignorant. 
The Greek pantheon had ceased to have any reason for 
existing. All that imperial encouragement could do was 
to galvanise into a semblance of life a body that was 
already dead. 

But though Julian's success was ephemeral and the 
revival of polytheism impossible, yet the attempt 
brought for a while pagan tolerance to a world 
distracted by Christian sectarianism and the sanguinary 
squabbles of metaphysicians and priests. Towards the 
Jews Julian proved particularly gracious. He intro- 
duced Jehovah to his chorus of deities, and treated 
Him with especial reverence. It was enough for 
Julian that Jehovah was a god. He cared little about 
the claims to universal and exclusive veneration advanced 
on His behalf by some of His worshippers. The 
Emperor's desire to humble the Christians, combined 
with his genuine pity for the suffering Jews, suggested 
to him the design of rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem, 
of investing it with its ancient splendour, and of recalling 
the children of Israel to the home of their fathers. 

Alypius of Antioch, Julian's faithful friend, was en- 
trusted with the execution of the scheme, and was sent to 
Palestine for the purpose. The Jews saw the finger of 
God in the Imperial enthusiast's resolve. It seemed to 


them that the long-expected day of redemption had 
dawned, and they answered the summons with alacrity. 
Leaving their homes and their occupations, they crowded, 
to Zion from far and near, both men and women, 
bringing with them their offerings for the service of the 
Temple, gold and silver and purple and silk, even as their 
ancestors had done in obedience to the call of the Lord 
through Moses, and again on their return from Babylon, 
in the days of yore. No Pharaoh with a taste for monu- 
mental architecture had ever exacted from his subjects a 
larger tribute in money and labour than this pagan Prince 
of Zionists now received freely from the children of Israel. 
To share in the work was a title to everlasting glory, 
while ignominy would be the portion of those who 
shirked it. But there were few who wished to do so. 
The building of the Temple was a labour of love, and no< 
sacrifice was deemed too great, no service too painful for 
the realisation of the dream which so many generations of 
Jews had already dreamt, and which so many more were 
fated to dream in the future. 1 

Alas ! the glorious self-denial of a whole race was. 
wasted, and its hopes were dashed to the ground by the 

363 Emperor's untimely death. The work was abandoned,, 
six months after its inception, all traces of it soon 
vanished, and the site over which the plough had once 
been drawn remained a final loneliness. The pilgrims 
dispersed, disheartened and abashed, and their enemies 
rejoiced. The Christians, in their turn, detected the 
finger of God in this failure of the Jews to escape the lot 
assigned to them from above, as a punishment for their 
sins, and continued to assist Providence. 

364-378 Under the Arian Emperor Valens the Jews were left 

379-395 unmolested. Theodosius the Great also protected them 
against the attacks of fanaticism, and under the rule of 

395-408 Arcadius they were able to purchase peace by bribing the 

1 This account of the fervid response of the Jews to Julian's call,, 
based on the authority of Christian writers, is pronounced by the 
Jewish historian Graetz " purely fictitious " (History of the Jews, Eng. tr. 
vol. ii. p. 606). At any rate, it seems to be a fiction that bears upon 
it a clearer mark of verisimilitude than many a " historical " document 
relating to this period. 


Emperor's favourites. But with the accession of Theo- 408-450 
dosius the Younger orthodoxy and intolerance, which had 
been interrupted by the short reign of heresy, were 
restored to power. 

The effects of this restoration were soon felt by the 
Jews. John Chrysostom had been denouncing them in 
Antioch, and the preacher's eloquence was translated into 
acts of violence by the people of the neighbouring town of 
Imnestar. The occasion of the riot was the Feast of 41 5 
Purim, when the Jews celebrated their triumph over 
Haman by a carnival of intoxication and ribaldry accom- 
panied with the crucifixion of their enemy in effigy. The 
merriment, it appears, was further accentuated by coarse 
jokes at the expense of Christianity. The Christians of 
the town, who had frequently complained of these orgies 
in vain, now accused the Jews of having crucified not a 
straw-Haman but a live Christian lad. The charge led 
to the severe punishment of the revellers. 1 

The same year witnessed a persecution of the Jews on a 
far larger scale in Alexandria. In that city Jews and 
Christians had long lived on terms of mutual repugnance, 
which not rarely resulted in reciprocal outrage. An 
episode of this kind afforded Cyril, the dictatorial and 
bigoted Patriarch, an excuse for indiscriminate vengeance. 
Early one morning the pugnacious ecclesiastic led a rabble 
of zealots against the Jews' quarter, demolished their 
synagogues, pillaged their dwellings, and hounded the 
inmates out of the city in which they had lived and 
prospered for seven centuries. Forty thousand of them, 
the most industrious and thrifty part of the population, 
were driven forth to join their brethren in exile. The 
Prefect Orestes, unable to prevent the assault, or to 
punish the culprits, was fain to express his disapproval 
of their conduct — an indiscretion for which he narrowly 
escaped being stoned to death by the monks. 

In the meantime the Christian inhabitants of Antioch 
volunteered to avenge the grievances of their brethren at 

1 That the ' Haman ' so burned was only an effigy is now clearly shown 
by an original Geonic Responsum on the subject discovered in the Cairo 
Geniza and published in the Jewish Quarterly Review, xvi. pp. 651 fol. 


Imnestar by ejecting their Jewish fellow-citizens from the 
synagogues. The Emperor Theodosius compelled them 
to restore the buildings to the owners. But this decision 
was denounced by Simeon the Stylites, who on ascending 
his column had renounced all worldly luxuries except 
Jew-hatred. From that lofty pulpit the hermit addressed 
an epistle to the Emperor, rebuking him for his sinful 
indulgence to the enemies of Heaven. The pious 
Emperor was not proof against reprimand from so 

423 eminent a saint. He immediately revoked his edict and 
removed the Prefect who had pleaded the cause of the 

Two years later Theodosius the Younger abolished the 
semi-autonomous jurisdiction of the Jewish Patriarch of 
Tiberias and appropriated his revenues. He imposed 
many grievous restrictions on the celebration of Jewish 

425 festivals, excluded the Jews from public offices, and pro- 
hibited the erection of new synagogues. The harsh laws 
of Theodosius remained in force under his successors. 
The Jews were looked upon with contempt and aversion 
in every part of the Byzantine Empire, their persons and 
their synagogues, in the towns where such existed, were 
frequently made the objects of assault, and the riots 
excited by the rivalry between the Christian factions in 
the circus often ended in combined attacks upon the 
Jewish quarter. Meanwhile Palestine, with few ex- 
ceptions, had become completely Christianized ; Greek 
churches and monasteries occupied the places once held 
by the synagogues of the Jews, abbots and bishops bore 
sway over the land of the Pharisees, and Jerusalem 
from a capital of Judaism became the stronghold and 
the sanctuary of the Cross. 

Suffering once more kindled the hope for the Redeemer. 
Moses of Crete, in the middle of the fifth century, 
undertook to fulfil the old prophecies and to gratify 
the expectations of his persecuted brethren. He gained 
the adherence of all the Jews in the island and confidently 
promised to them that he would lead them dry-shod to 
the Holy Land, even as his great namesake had done 
before him. On the appointed day the Messiah marched 


to the coast, followed by all the Jewish congregations, 
and, taking up his station on a rock which jutted out 
into the sea, he commanded his adherents to cast them- 
selves fearlessly into the deep. Incredible as it may 
appear to us creatures of commonsense, many obeyed 
the command, to find the waters unwilling to divide. 
Several perished through the stubbornness of the element 
and their own inability to swim ; others were rescued 
from the consequences of excessive faith by Greek sailors. 
Moses vanished. 

Justinian aggravated the servitude of the Jews. In his 527-565 
reign the holy vessels of the Temple which had already 
wandered over the East, been taken to Rome by Titus, 
and thence transferred to Carthage by Genseric the 
Vandal, found their way to Constantinople. The Jews of 
New Rome had the mortification to see these memorials 
of their departed greatness in the train of Belisarius who, 
having destroyed the empire of the Vandals, carried into 
captivity the grandson of Genseric, and with him the 
sacred vessels, which were finally deposited in a church at 535 
Jerusalem. In the same year the evidence of Jews 
against Christians was declared inadmissible, and two 
years later Justinian passed a law burdening the Jews 
with the expensive duties of magistracy, while denying 
to them its exemptions and privileges. Soon after the 
Jews were forbidden by law to observe Passover before 
the Christian Easter. 

Under Justinian the Samaritans fared even worse 
than the Jews. Oppression goaded them repeatedly to 
rebellion, and each attempt, accompanied as such attempts 
were with atrocities against the Christians, rendered the 
yoke heavier. One of these desperate revolts occurred in 
556 a.d., when the Samaritans of Caesarea took advantage 
of one of the inevitable circus-riots and, aided by the 
Jews, massacred the Christian inhabitants. The crime 
brought down upon them a heavy and indiscriminate 

A respite followed on Justinian's death, and it continued 
under his immediate successors. But the reign of Phocas 
witnessed a renewal of the feud. The Jews of Antioch 608 


suddenly fell upon the Christians, whom they slaughtered 
and burnt ; while they dragged the Patriarch through the 
streets and put him to death. A military force suppressed 
the riot and wreaked vengeance on the guilty people. 
A few years after, the Jews seized an opportunity for 
venting their ill-concealed hatred of the Greeks. This 
was the advance of the Persians upon Palestine. 

A certain rich Jew of Tiberias, Benjamin by name, 
led the revolt, and called upon his fellow-countrymen 
to join the Persians. The Jews gladly complied, and 
assembled from all parts of Palestine, bringing their fury 
and their fire to bear upon the Christians. With their 
614 assistance the Persians took Jerusalem, massacred ninety 
thousand Christian inhabitants, and sacked all the Chris- 
tian sanctuaries, for their Jewish allies would spare none 
and nothing that reminded them of their national humilia- 
tion. From the capital terror and havoc spread throughout 
the land, the conquerors destroying the monasteries and 
killing the monks wherever they found them. An attempt 
to surprise and slay the Christians of Tyre during the 
Easter celebrations, however, failed. The latter, having 
been informed of the design, seized the Jews in the 
town, who were to act as secret auxiliaries of the assail- 
ants, killed one hundred of them for each atrocity 
perpetrated by their accomplices outside the city, and 
threw the heads of the victims over the walls for the 
edification of their co-religionists. This performance had 
the desired effect. The besiegers, dismayed at the shower 
of Hebrew heads which fell upon them, beat a hasty 
retreat, pursued by the Tyrian Christians. 

For fourteen years Palestine remained in the hands of 
the Persians and the Jews. Several Christians in despair 
embraced Judaism, among them a monk of Mount Sinai, 
who changed his name into Abraham, married a Jewess, 
and, renegade-like, distinguished himself by joining in 
the persecution of the faith which he had betrayed. But 
the Jews, who had fondly hoped that their Persian allies 
would make the country over to them, were doomed to 
disappointment. Discontent culminated in a rupture with 
their friends and the banishment of many Jews to Persia. 


The rest then resolved to revenge themselves by a second 
act of treachery. They entered into negotiations with the 
Emperor Heraclius, and, on his promising to forgive 
and forget their past misdeeds, aided him to recover the 
province. The Persian invaders were driven back, and the 628 
Greeks reigned once more supreme over Western Asia. 

The Jews acclaimed the victor and his army with 
servile adulation, and entertained both with a liberality 
springing from cold calculation. But their enthusiasm 
was too transparent, and their atrocities too recent to 
delude Heraclius. At Jerusalem the monks earnestly 
implored the Emperor to punish the traitors, and with 
one stroke to remove for ever the danger of a repetition 
of their crime. Heraclius objected to the breach of faith 
which the holy men so vehemently recommended; but 
his scruples were overruled by their offers to take the 
sin upon themselves, by their casuistical demonstrations 
that the extermination of the enemies of Heaven was a 
meritorious deed beside which common honesty counted 
for nothing, and by the promise to fast and pray on his 
behalf. The Jews were persecuted ; many of them were 
slaughtered, and others fled to the hills or to Egypt, 
where they were welcomed by their brethren. Thus 
double treachery ended in double disaster. 

The sufferings of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire 
were revived by Leo the I saurian, who seems to have 
tried to recover the confidence of the clergy, forfeited by 
his iconoclastic proclivities, by a zealous persecution of 
those eternal enemies of Orthodoxy. In 723 he issued a 
decree threatening with terrible penalties all Jews who 
refused to be baptized. Some submitted to the ordeal in 
order to save their lives ; others preferred to seek safety 
in voluntary exile, or glory in self-inflicted martyrdom ; 
many burning themselves to death in their synagogues. 

Under Leo's successors, though the Jews continued to 
be excluded from public offices, they were allowed full 
freedom in the exercise of their religion and the pursuit 
of commerce. Basil, however, in the middle of the ninth 
century, renewed the endeavours of the Church to con- 
vert the infidels, and under his auspices public disputations 


were held between Christian and Hebrew theologians ; 
the persuasive eloquence of the former being strengthened 
by promises of political preferment to converts. Many- 
Jews hastened to profit by this opening to power. But 

886 on the Emperor's death they exhibited an equal alacrity 
in returning to the old faith. Whereupon Leo the 

900 Philosopher ordered that backsliders should be put to 
death as traitors to the Church. This severity, however, 
was relaxed under his unphilosophical successors. 

Benjamin of Tudela, that invaluable guide to the 
mediaeval Jewry, who visited Constantinople about the 
middle of the twelfth century, 1 describes the condition of 
his co-religionists as follows : " They are forbidden to go 
out on horseback, except Solomon of Egypt, who is the 
King's physician, and through whom the Jews find great 
alleviation in the persecution. For the persecution in 
which they live is heavy. . . . The Christians hate the 
Jews, be they good or bad, and lay upon them a heavy 
yoke. They beat them in the streets and hold them in a 
state of cruel slavery. But the Jews are rich and kind, 
loving mercy and religion, and they endure patiently the 
persecution. The quarter in which they live separately is 
called Pera." 2 

Briefly, the history of Israel in the Eastern Empire is a 
story of ecclesiastical persecution tempered at times by 
imperial protection, until the Turkish conquest deprived 
the Christians of the means of oppression. Somewhat 
better conditions prevailed in the West. 

The Jews continued to live in Rome, Ravenna, Naples, 
Genoa, and Milan, devoted to the peaceful pursuit of 
commerce, long after persecution had commenced in the 
East. Ambrosius, Bishop of Milan, it is true, denounced 
and derided the infidels, but he was prevented from an 
active demonstration of his theories on the subject by the 
firmness of Theodosius I. This Emperor's feeble suc- 

1 The exact date of the " Tour " is disputed. It probably occupied 
the thirteen years between 1 160 and 1 173. 

2 Benjamin of Tudela's Itinerary, p. 24 (ed. Asher). A new critical 
edition (by M. N. Adler) has recently appeared in the Jewish Quarterly 
Review. For the passage in the text see ibid. xvi. 730. 


cessor, Honorius, forbade the collection of the Jewish 399 
Patriarch's tax in Italy ; but the order was revoked five 
years later. In all the cities mentioned the Jews formed 
separate, semi-autonomous communities, their only com- 
plaint being their exclusion from judicial and military 
dignities, which they did not covet, and the prohibition to 
build new synagogues or to own Christian slaves. The 
latter law, though bitterly resented by the Jews, was 
perfectly justified from the Christian, or indeed from an 
equitable, point of view. The Jews were large slave- 
dealers and slave-owners, and it was their custom to 
convert their slaves to Judaism in order to avoid the 
presence of Gentiles under their roofs. All slaves who 
refused to be circumcised were, in obedience to the 
Talmud, sold again. It was, therefore, the duty of the 
Church to protect these helpless brutes in human form 
against proselytism. On the other hand, from the stand- 
point of the Jews, the prohibition was a severe blow at 
their power of competition, as in that age slave labour 
was, if not the only, certainly the most usual kind of 
labour available. 

The conquest of Italy by Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, 489 
and the principles of toleration upon which, though a 
Christian and a heretic and a hater of Hebrew "obduracy," 
this prince based his rule, seemed to promise a perpetua- 
tion of the prosperity of Israel. How enlightened 
Theodoric's administration was is shown by the following 
incident. The Jews of Genoa, on asking for permission 
to repair their synagogue, received from the King this 
reply : ' c Why do you desire that which you should avoid r 
We accord you, indeed, the permission you request ; but 
we blame the wish, which is tainted with error. We 
cannot command religion, however, nor compel anyone to 
believe contrary to his conscience." 1 But the fanaticism 
of Theodoric's orthodox subjects, denied an outlet against 
the Arian conquerors, vented itself on the Jews, who 
suddenly found themselves exposed to the ferocity of the 
Italian rabble, were insulted and robbed, and saw their 
synagogues looted and burnt, until the civil authorities 
1 H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iii. p. 3 1 . 


intervened, stopped the havoc, and forced the aggressors 
to make reparation for the losses inflicted upon their 
fellow-townsmen, thereby earning the cordial anathemas 
of the whole Catholic world. 

Thus ended the fifth century. Nor did the position of 
the Jews deteriorate in the sixth. How happy and 
wealthy they continued to be in Italy under the Ostro- 
gothic rule is proved by the brave resistance which they 

536 opposed to Justinian's general, Belisarius, in his conquering 
progress through the peninsula, and more especially at 
Naples. Byzantine domination over Italy ceased in 589, 
when the greater part of the country fell under the power 
of the Lombards, who also left the Jews in peace. Out- 
bursts of popular intolerance disgraced the Italian peninsula 
from time to time, but, as a rule, Israel was able to secure 
official indulgence with the wealth which it amassed under 

590-604 the interested protection of the Popes. Gregory the 
Great, although he persecuted the Manichaean heretics of 
Sicily and ordered the reclamation of the pagan peasants 
of Sardinia " etiam cum verberibus," and although, in his 
anxiety to extinguish slavery, he revived the ordinance of 
the Emperor Constantius and impressed upon the princes 
of Austrasia and Burgundy the necessity of forbidding 
the possession of Christian slaves by Jews, yet laid down 
the principle that no other means than friendly exhorta- 
tion and pecuniary temptation should be employed in the 
conversion of the latter, and he sheltered them from the 
aggressive piety of the inferior bishops. 

In Gaul Jews must have settled at a very early period, 
though the origin of their colonies is lost in the mists of 
unrecorded time, and no sure evidence of their presence 
in that province is extant before the second century. 
Whether the first Jewish settlers north of the Alps 
arrived as prisoners of war or as peddlers, they make 
their appearance in history as Roman citizens, and as 
such they were treated with respect by the Frankish and 
Burgundian conquerors, who allowed them to practise 
agriculture, medicine, and trade without let or hindrance, 
until the introduction of Christianity. The advent of the 
Cross here, as elsewhere, proved fatal to the sons of Israel. 


Nor could it be otherwise. Time had passed on, the 
Roman Empire had been swept away, and a new order 
of things had sprung into existence. Younger races 
dominated the regions over which the Roman eagle once 
spread his proud wings, and the worship of one God, 
the God of the Jews, had dethroned the many deities of 
paganism. The Jew alone had remained the same. 
Despite lapse of time and all vicissitudes, the Hebrew 
of Western Europe still was a faithful facsimile of his 
Asiatic forefathers. Like them he continued hemmed in 
by an iron circle which he would not overstep and into 
which he reluctantly admitted outsiders. The Jews every- 
where dwelt apart, suspicious and suspected. Jewish 
writers glory in this arrogant and dangerous isolation : 
u In spite of their separation from Judaea and Babylonia, 
the centres of Judaism, the Jews of Gaul lived in strict 
accordance with the precepts of their religion. Wherever 
they settled they built their synagogues and constituted 
their communities in exact agreement with the directions 
of the Talmud." 1 Such constancy, admirable in itself, 
was, from a practical point of view, pregnant with perils 
which were not slow in declaring themselves. 

In 465 the Council of Vannes forbade the clergy to 
participate in Jewish banquets, because it was considered 
beneath the dignity of Christians to eat the viands of the 
Jews, while the Jews refused to partake of the viands of the 
Christians. This was the commencement of an active dis- 
play of antipathy destined to endure down to our own day. 

In Burgundy the conversion of King Sigismund to the 
Catholic faith inaugurated an era of oppression of all 516 
heretics — Arians as well as Jews. True believers, whether 
laymen or clergymen, were prohibited from taking part in 
Jewish banquets. From Burgundy the spirit of hostility- 
spread to other countries. The third and fourth Councils 53 s and 545 
at Orleans reiterated the above prohibition, and the Jews 
were forbidden to appear abroad during Easter, because 
their presence was " an insult to Christianity." Clerical 
fanaticism was invested with constitutional authority by 
Childebert I. of Paris a few years after. 554 

1 H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iii. p. 38. 


Among these earlier persecutors of Judaism none 
distinguished himself more highly than Avitus, Bishop of 
Clermont. In him the Jews of Gaul found an enemy as 
implacable as their brethren of Alexandria had found in 
Cyril. He repeatedly strove to convert the Jews of his 
diocese, and, on his sermons proving ineffectual, he 
incited the Christians to attack the synagogues and to 
raze them to the ground. But even this argument failed 
to persuade the stiff-necked infidels of the truth of 
Christianity. The good Bishop, therefore, gave them the 
option of baptism or banishment, thus forestalling the 
King of England by seven and the King of Spain by 
nine centuries. One Jew chose baptism, and paraded 
the streets in his garments of symbolic purity during the 
Pentecost. But another Jew undertook to interpret the 
feelings of his brethren by soiling the devout apostate's 
white clothes with rancid oil. The inopportune anoint- 
ment led to a massacre and to the forcible baptism of 
five hundred more Jews, while the rest fled to Marseilles. 

576 This triumph of the faith at Clermont was received with 

great rejoicings in the neighbouring countries, and Bishop 
Gregory of Tours showed a laudable lack of ecclesiastical 
jealousy by inviting a poet to sing in bad Latin the 
success of his colleague. 

581 Five years later the Council of Macon passed various 

enactments emphasising the social inferiority of the Jews, 
and the bigotry of the Councillors. King Chilperic also 
dabbled in compulsory proselytism, and the later Mero- 

615. 629 vingian Kings Clotaire II. and Dagobert carried on the 
work in grim earnest. The former of these princes, in 
obedience to the decrees of the Clermont and Macon 
Councils, debarred the Jews from such official posts as 
conferred on the holders authority over Christians, and in 
the following year the Council of Paris recommended 
their indiscriminate dismissal from all state offices. But 
the decline of the " Merovingian drones " brought at last 
relief to the Jews of Gaul. 

In Spain, as in Gaul, Israel had pitched its tent very 
early — in all probability before the fall of the Roman 
Republic. The number of the colonists was subsequently 


increased by the captives carried off from Palestine by 
Titus and Hadrian, and sold in various provinces of the 
Empire, as well as by voluntary emigrants ; so that the 
peninsula was gradually dotted with their synagogues; 
many towns became known as " Jewish " owing to the 
predominance of the chosen people in their population, 
and many Jewish families pointed with pride to lengthy 
pedigrees, real or imaginary, some dating their immigra- 
tion from the destruction of the Second Temple, others 
tracing their ancestry to David; and not a few even 
claiming descent from settlers brought to Spain by no 
less a personage than Nebuchadnezzar ! 

Here they remained unmolested until the conversion of 
the country to Christianity, when the familiar process 
began. The new religion, having wiped out idolatry, 
sought a fresh field among the Jews. Their infidelity 
justified persecution ; their wealth and their weakness 
invited it. As early as the reign of Constantine the 
Great we find Bishop Severus of Magona, in the island 
of Minorca, burning their synagogues and forcing them 
to embrace Christianity, and Bishop Hosius of Cordova 
prohibiting Christians, under pain of excommunication, 
from trading, intermarrying, or otherwise mixing with the 32a 
contaminated race. But the lot of Israel did not become 
unbearable until long after the Visigoths from the North 
invaded, devastated, and permanently occupied the penin- 
sula. The first Arian kings, while persecuting the 
Catholics, allowed full liberty, civil and political, to the 
Israelites, who consequently rose to great affluence and to 
the most important dignities in the state. This happy 
period ended in the sixth century when King Reccared 
abjured the Arian heresy and was received into the bosom 
of the Church. Then came orthodoxy, and with it per- 
secution. In 589 the Council of Toledo forbade the Jews 
to own Christian slaves, and to hold public offices. The 
Jews tried to avoid the first restriction by offering a great 
sum of money to King Recarred. But he refused the 
offer, and earned the eulogies of Pope Gregory the Great, 599 
who compared him to King David; for as David had 
poured the water brought to him out before the Lord, so 


had Recarred sacrificed to God the gold offered to him. 
This was precisely the principle which nine centuries later 
dictated Ferdinand and Isabella's policy towards the Jews. 
Indeed, early Visigothic legislation supplies many curious 
precedents for mediaeval Spanish bigotry. As time went 
on it doomed the whole Jewish race to servitude, and 
invented many of the maxims and methods afterwards 
adopted and perfected by the Inquisition. 

Throughout the seventh century the hapless people 
experienced all the rigour of Spanish statesmanship, 
guided by priestly malevolence. Even bribery, the last 
resource of the oppressed, was provided against by 
regulations which in their stringency showed that, if the 
Jews were eager to purchase mercy, their ecclesiastical 
oppressors were not above selling the commodity. Under 
612 King Sisebut, the treatment of the Jews was a rehearsal of 
the tragedy acted in the same country eight hundred and 
sixty years later. They were imprisoned, plundered, or 
burnt, and finally they were given the choice between 
apostasy and expatriation. The most " stiff-necked " 
amongst them preferred the loss of country and property 
to loss of self-respect. Ninety thousand yielded to force, 
and saved themselves by apparent conversion. The 
Church, while disapproving of compulsory proselytism, 
pronounced a heavy sentence on those who openly 
renounced the creed which nothing but the fear of 
banishment had driven them to embrace. Baptism 
became a mask and a mockery. But even outward 
conformity could not long be maintained unsupported 
by internal conviction, and many neophytes seized the 
first opportunity of throwing off the hateful cloak. 
Thereupon the Church, sorely scandalized at the sight 
of proselytes falling back into the slough whence she 
had rescued them, induced Sisenand, one of Sisebut's 
successors, to restrain by force the Jews once baptized 
from relapsing into Judaism, or from frequenting other 
Jews, and, furthermore, to order that the children of 
the former should be torn from their parents and be 
educated in monasteries and nunneries. Those who 
were discovered secretly indulging in Hebrew rites were 


condemned to lose their freedom and to serve the King's 
favourites. Side by side with these inhuman measures 
was carried on a less harmful, though not less stupid, 
missionary campaign. All the polemical arguments of 
the early Fathers were now refurbished, but with no 
greater success than had attended them when brand-new. 

However, these efforts of the Church notwithstanding, 
the nobles of Spain continued to extend their protection 
over the persecuted people until the accession of King 
Chintilla, who in a General Council wrested from them a 
confirmation of the anti-Jewish enactments of his prede- 
cessors, and, moreover, proclaimed a wholesale expulsion 
of all Jews who refused to embrace Christianity. Again 
many Israelites were driven out of the country^ and many 
into hypocrisy. 

It was hoped that this signal proof of piety on the 
King's part would break at last the inflexible infidelity of 
the race. The Church also decreed that every king in 638 
the future should at his coronation take a solemn oath to 
continue the persecution of heretics. But persecution 
presupposes a perfect accord between the civil authority 
and the ecclesiastical ; and, as has sometimes happened 
since, the secular power in Spain recognised certain limits 
to its capacity for obeying the spiritual. Chintilla died in 
642, and later sovereigns refused to carry out the decrees 
of the Church, while others tried to do so in vain. The 
Jews were too useful to be dispensed with. Political 
necessity overruled religious bigotry, and Spain, as every 
other country in Europe, continued to present the strange 
spectacle of a proscribed sect flourishing under the very 
eyes of the judges who had repeatedly pronounced its 
doom. Despite the manifold disabilities under which the 
Jews laboured, they remained and multiplied in the 
peninsula, the pseudo-converts practising Judaism in 
secret ; some of the avowed Jews refuting the arguments 
of their assailants in polemical treatises ; all nursing a 
sullen hatred of their rulers and waiting for an oppor- 
tunity of gratifying it. 

Such an opportunity offered itself in the Arab invasion, 
and the Mohammedan Caliphs found in these suffering 


children of a kindred race and religion ready and valuable 
allies. It is not improbable that the fear of such an 
alliance between the followers of Mohammed and those 
of Moses had intensified among the Christians of Spain 
the anti-Jewish feeling which found vent in the violent 
persecution of the Jews during the years immediately 
preceding the conquest of the peninsula. If so, the 
Spaniards by their treatment of the Jews created the 
situation which they feared. The Mohammedan in- 
vasion was prepared by the intrigues of the Jews of 
Spain with their co-religionists in Africa, who exposed to 
the Saracens the weaknesses of the Visigothic kingdoms. 
Tarik, the Mohammedan conqueror, in his triumphant 

711 career through the peninsula, after the battle of Xeres, 
where Roderic the last of the Visigothic kings had fallen, 
was everywhere supported by the Jews. Cordova, 
Granada, Malaga, and other cities were entrusted to the 
safe-keeping of the Jews, and Toledo was betrayed to the 
invader by the Jews, who, while the Christian inhabitants 
were assembled in church praying for divine help, threw 

712 the gates open to the enemy, acclaiming him as a saviour 
and an avenger. 

Persecution had again awakened the desire for redemp- 
tion, which had never been allowed to remain dormant 

About 720 long. The new Messiah appeared in the person of a 
Syrian Jewish Reformer, named Serene. It so happened 
that the Jews of Syria were at that time suffering almost 

717-720 as cruelly at the hands of the fanatical Caliph Omar II. as 
at those of the Christian Emperor Leo. When, therefore, 
the Messiah arose, promising to restore them to independ- 
ence and to exterminate their enemies, many Eastern Jews 
lent an attentive ear to his gospel. The Redeemer's fame 
reached Spain, and the Jews of that country also, still 
smarting under the sufferings of centuries and probably 
disappointed in the extravagant hopes which they had 
built upon the Arab conquest, hastened to enlist under 
his banner. But Serene's career was cut short by Omar 
II. 's successor. The Commander of the Faithful seized 
the Messiah and subjected him to a severe cross- 
examination. Whether it was due to the subtlety of the 


theological riddles propounded to him by the Caliph, or 
to some more tangible test of constancy, the Prophet's 
courage failed him. It was even said, by those who had 
refused to follow the Messiah, or who having followed 
were disillusioned, that Serene declared his mission to be 
only a practical pleasantry at the expense of his credulous 
co-religionists. Be that as it may, poor Serene was 
delivered up to the tender mercies of the Synagogue, and 
his disgrace dissipated the Messianic dream for the 

But in less than a generation another Reformer of the 
Messianic type appeared in the Persian town of Ispahan to 
rekindle the enthusiasm and try the faith of his people. 
This was Obaiah Abu Isa ben Ishak. He, somewhat 
more modest than his predecessor, claimed to be only 
one — though the last and most perfect — of a line of five 
forerunners who were to prepare the way for the coming 
Redeemer. He also held out the promise to free the 
children of Israel from thraldom. Nor did he preach to 
deaf ears. One of the most striking inconsistencies in the 
Jewish character is the combination which it presents of 
unlimited shrewdness and suspiciousness with an almost 
equal capacity for being duped. The people who in every 
age have been hated as past masters of deceit, have them- 
selves often been the greatest victims of imposture. 
Religious belief is so strong in them that, especially in 
times of suffering, nothing seems improbable that agrees 
with their predisposition. Libenter homines id quod volunt 
credunt. Ten thousand Jews rallied round Obaiah's 
standard. The war for independence began at Ispahan 
and for a while seemed to promise success. But the 
Prophet fell in battle, and, though his memory was kept 
green by his followers, who endured till the tenth century, 
none proved able to carry on the work of deliverance. 



"Jews massacred in France," "Jews massacred in Ger- 
many," " Jews massacred in England," " Jews massacred 
in Germany and France," "Jews massacred in Spain," 
again and again and again. These headings, not to 
mention expulsions, oppressions and spoliations without 
number, stare us in the face as we turn over the pages of 
the history of Mediaeval Europe, and the cold lines 
assume a terrible significance as we peruse tale after tale 
of bodily and mental torment, such as no other people 
ever suffered and survived. And as we read on, and try 
to realise the awful scenes, the desolate cry of the sufferers 
rings in our ears, like a long-drawn wail borne across the 
centuries: "How long, O Lord, how long?" 

It would, of course, be an absurd exaggeration to assert 
that the life of Israel through the Middle Ages was an 
unbroken horror of carnage and rapine. There were 
spells of respite, some of them fairly long, during which 
the Jew was permitted to live and grow fat. But these 
Sabbaths of rest can be likened not inaptly to the periods 
during which a prudent husbandman suffers his land to 
lie fallow, in the hope of a richer harvest. They are only 
intervals between the acts of a tedious and bloody tragedy, 
with a continent for its stage and seven centuries for its 
night. But, though covering so vast an extent in space 
and time, the drama is not devoid of unity : the unity of 
plot. The motives and the characters are ever the same, 
each scene ends in strict accord with the foregoing, and 
the performance is a masterpiece of mournful monotony. 
Nor is it easy to bestow the crown of excellence on any 


European nation of actors without being unjust to their 

The drama naturally divides itself into two periods : 
the period of spontaneous but unsystematic hostility, and 
the period of deliberate and organised persecution. 

While the Church was engaged in disseminating the 
gospel abroad, in rooting out heresy at home and in 
establishing her own authority, she had little time to 
devote to the persecution of the Jews; and the only 
canon law against them was the prohibition to dwell 
under the same roof with Christians and to employ 
Christian servants — a law which, in the absence of rigorous 
supervision, often remained a dead letter, and much 
oftener was observed, simply because neither side felt any 
violent desire to break it. The Jews consequently throve 
amazingly, their synagogues grew in number and splen- 
dour, and their antipathy to outside influences, though 
continuing to be as implacable as ever, found its chief 
expression in social isolation tempered by commercial 

In every country and in every city in Europe they 
remained sharply separated from their Christian neigh- 
bours, shunning intermarriage with them, and forming a 
perfectly distinct body of people, with the synagogue 
for its centre and its soul. The synagogue elected its 
own officers in accordance with the traditions of the 
Temple and the instructions of the Talmud, passing 
communal ordinances which, as in ancient times, regulated 
the whole of Jewish life : enforcing monogamy, prohibit- 
ing shaving, fixing the tax on meat, restraining gambling, 
forbidding the promiscuous dancing of Jews and Jewesses, 
dictating marriage settlements and divorce, defining the 
dress and diet of men and women. The State frequently 
levied the taxes on the Jewish community in a lump sum, 
leaving the assessment among individual members and 
the collection to the officers of the synagogue. 1 Justice 

1 With regard to the legal relations between the Jews and the various 
mediaeval states see J. E. Scherer's 'Beitrage zur Geschichte des J udenrechtes 
im Mittelalter (1901), a work unhappily left incomplete by the death of 
the author. 


also was administered by the Beth Din, or Jewish religious 
tribunal. Thus, despite much external interference, the 
Jewries constituted self-governing colonies — strange oases 
in mediaeval society. Their members were neither villeins 
nor freeholders ; neither men-at-arms nor mechanics. 
Feudalism concerned them as little as Catholicism. They 
took no more part in the martial exercises than in the 
spiritual devotions of their neighbours. They belonged 
neither to the knightly orders nor to the commercial and 
industrial corporations ; but they lived a life of their own, 
in closer communion of interests and tastes with their 
brethren in Cairo or Babylon than with their fellow- 
townsmen. In the ninth century, for instance, Babylon 
was to the Jews of Western Europe what Rome was to 
the Catholics — the oracle of Divine knowledge — and 
Rabbinical decisions issued therefrom were obeyed as 
implicitly as Papal Bulls. The Mediaeval Jews were as 
indifferent to the beauties of Chivalry as to its duties. 
The notes of the minstrel fell dead upon their ears, and 
the sterile subtleties of Talmudical exegesis thrilled them 
more than the amours of romance. Latin, the language 
of Western Christendom, was abhorred by the descendants 
of those whom the Roman destroyer of the Temple had 
driven into exile, and the study of the Torah was the one 
form of literature to which all Jews, old and young, rich 
and poor, devoted themselves with a single-minded 
earnestness worthy of the ancient Pharisees and Scribes. 
Even in their mutual greetings they retained the oriental 
formula "Peace be to thee," "To thee a goodly blessing." 
This ominous isolation was to the Jews a source of 
pride, with which no bribe could induce them to part. 
The thought of making themselves one with the uncir- 
cumcised was as repugnant to them as it had been to 
their ancestors on entering Canaan. Their poetical litera- 
ture, which through the Jewish hymn-book supplied a 
bond of sympathy between all the scattered sections of 
Mediaeval Jewry, is a lasting monument of their sorrows 
and of their self-glorification ; of their faith in the 
promises of the past and of their firm trust in the 
future. All these sentiments may be regarded as embodied 


in that love for an idealised and idolised Zion which 
brightened many a gloomy hour, and which was for the 
Jews what political ambitions and aspirations were for 
their Christian neighbours. They looked upon them- 
selves but as sojourners in the land, and upon their 
residence among the Gentiles as an evil dream from which 
the Lord in His time would awaken them, and lead His 
people back to the land of their fathers. Israel still was 
the slave of the Idea, and its victim. 

This social isolation was symbolised and perpetuated 
by local segregation. The Jews everywhere dwelt together 
in special quarters, distinguished even amid the gloom 
and squalor of a mediaeval town by a darkness and 
dirtiness which contrasted curiously with the occasional 
magnificence of the interior of the houses and with the 
personal cleanliness of the inmates. In these quarters 
they resided, many families in one house, eating meat 
killed and cooked in a special manner, frequently fasting 
when their neighbours feasted, and feasting when they 
fasted ; or, worse still, sometimes, by a fatal coincidence, 
celebrating their Deliverance while the Christians mourned 
the sufferings of their Saviour ; as a rule, resting on the 
day on which the others worked, and working on the day 
on which they rested. They attended no mass, partook 
of no sacrament, showed no reverence for the crucifix and 
the saints ; but they lived unbaptized, unblest and circum- 
cised, worshipping their own God after their own fashion 
and in their own tongue, indulging in mysterious ablu- 
tions, observing the new moons and a thousand quaint 
rules of conduct, abstaining from touching fire from 
Friday evening till Saturday night, from eating pork, 
from drinking wine and milk, or from using vessels, 
touched by a Gentile. Their religious symbolism was 
alien to that of their neighbours ; their allegorical wedding 
customs, their rejoicings and their wailings equally weird ; 
their music as wonderful as their symbolism ; the nasal 
sing-song strains that floated out of the windows of the 
synagogue of a morning, or those that filled the night air 
with their strangeness, as a funeral procession hurried 
through the street, sounded horribly harsh, unmelodious, 


and unmeaning to non-Hebrew ears. Their very children 
were unlike the children of the Gentile ; precocious 
in worship as in work, they knew nothing of the 
sprightly brownies, elves, and fairies of European folk- 
lore, but believed in the solemn and sober spirits 
of Asiatic mythology. Altogether they must have 
seemed a singular and sinister people, with usury 
for their favourite pursuit, and prayer for their main 

Thus they lived, and when they died they were buried 
in special cemeteries, emphasising the amiable principle 
that there could be no union or intercommunion between 
Jew and Gentile even in death. 

Is it to be wondered at that the Jews everywhere 
were looked upon with aversion and suspicion ? The 
chastity of Jewish life, the gracious charm of the 
Sabbath, the serene beauty of the Jewish home were 
unknown, for Jewish homes in the Middle Ages rarely 
received a non-Jewish guest. If an inquisitive Catholic 
strayed into a synagogue on a Sabbath morning, what 
he saw therein would tend to strengthen his antipathy. 
He would find a congregation of men with their heads 
covered, gathered together in a place which had none 
of the attributes of a church : no images, no font, no 
altar, no holy- water stoup; a club-room rather than a 
House of the Lord. He would see some of these 
men absorbed in learned study, and others in lively 
gossip ; some chanting, and others chattering aloud ; 
many dropping in casually at odd times; all heedless 
of the precentor, whose trilling airs soared aloft in 
triumphant discord, amid the pandemonium of tongues, 
now melting into melodramatic tears or hysterical 
laughter, now drowned by the shrill blast of the ram's 

How could the ignorant Gentile know that these list- 
less or belated worshippers had already prayed abundantly 
at home, and, like people who go to a public banquet 
after having enjoyed a good dinner in private, had no 
appetite for further devotion ? To him the whole scene, 
with the din of children crying and running about, and 


the free and easy nonchalance of the men, must have 
appeared an orgy of indecorous levity. Worse still, he 
might have surprised this congregation discussing law- 
suits, or prices of goods ; for the synagogue was much 
more than a prayer-house to the Jew, and in it were made 
proclamations and bargains such as the mediaeval citizen 
was accustomed to see made in the market-place. Every- 
thing that the visitor witnessed would impress him as 
uncouth, unchristian, and uncanny ; and he would go 
away amazed and scandalised, if not disgusted. 

And yet, such is the apparent inconsistency of human 
nature, it was to this despised and detested assembly that 
the Christians of the lower orders, when ill, often had 
recourse for medical assistance. As in the old days at 
Rome, so in mediaeval Europe the Hebrew rites com- 
manded the veneration of the Gentiles. The mystery of 
the unknown fascinated them. Many people, who ordi- 
narily shunned the Jewish community, in time of trouble 
repaired to the synagogue, took part in its processions 
and ceremonies, and made votive offerings, that ailing 
friends might recover, that seafaring relatives might reach 
harbour in safety, that women in child-bed might be 
happily delivered, and that the barren might rejoice in 
offspring. The real proficiency of the Jews in medicine 
encouraged the popular superstition ; for medicine and 
magic were as closely associated in the mediaeval mind as 
they still are in the minds of the less advanced races. 
Jewish women were dreaded as sorceresses, and the Rabbis 
were believed to be on terms of intimacy with the powers 
of darkness. It was held that 

" Unregarded herbs, and flowers, and blossoms 
Display undreamt of powers when gathered by them." 

And Christian knights applied to them for scraps of parch- 
ment covered with Hebrew texts as protective charms for 
their persons and castles. 

Even so at the present day the Christians of the East 
resort to Mohammedan friars for charms and amulets of 
all kinds, and Mohammedans make offerings to Christian 
saints. Creeds may be mutually exclusive ; there is free 


trade in popular religion. This liberalism, however, is not 
incompatible with a deep and abiding abhorrence. It is 
not the deities but the demons of the rival race that the 
ignorant strive to propitiate. The act is the outcome 
of fear, and the help received implies no gratitude. Con- 
sequently, the mediaeval Jews and Gentiles, like modern 
Christians and Turks, despite superstitious sympathy, 
contiguity of centuries, occasional intercourse for festive 
purposes, and interchange of gifts, cherished no fellow- 
feeling for each other. Even genuine personal friendship 
could do little to counteract national and religious anti- 
pathy. The Jews were still aliens and infidels, therefore 
enemies, and they frequently fell victims to insult and 
assault, and sometimes to massacre, at the hands of the 
populace. Hostility found an appropriate occasion for 
self-manifestation on the great festivals of the Church, 
and more especially at Easter. At those times the sight 
of a Jew reminded the Christians of the Old Crime, and 
the maltreatment of him suggested itself as a natural deed 
of piety. The sentiment was holy ; the practical expres- 
sion of it partly childish, partly fiendish. 

At Toulouse, for example, it was the traditional custom 
to slap a Jew on the face every Good Friday. The 
Count opened the ceremony by publicly giving the 
president of the Jewish community a box on the ear, and 
his subjects followed suit, until the blow was commuted 
for a tribute in the twelfth century. At Beziers -pious 
wantonness took the form of an attack on the Jews' 
houses with stones from Palm Sunday till Easter. The 
use of other weapons was contrary to the rules of the 
game ; but none other were needed. A sermon from the 
Bishop was the regular preamble to the commencement 
of hostilities, and this Christian pastime continued in 
public favour year after year until a prelate, less cruel or 
more practical than his predecessors, abolished it for a 
consideration. In May 1160 a treaty was concluded pro- 
viding that any priest who should stir up the people 
against the Jews should be excommunicated, while the 
Jews, on their side, pledged themselves to pay four 
pounds of silver every Palm Sunday. Elsewhere, an old 


pagan rite for the propitiation of the powers of vegetation 
was cloaked in the devotional cremation of a straw 
" Judas " during Holy Week ; a custom still surviving in 
many parts of Europe. But racial and religious animosity, 
especially when fuelled by material grievances, knows no 
seasons. In Germany Jew-baiting was a perennial amuse- 
ment of gentlemen impoverished by usury, and the 
Judenstrasse, or Jews' street, a not unusual field of ignoble 

However, during the earlier Middle Ages, the Jews, 
though exposed to popular hatred, were generally shielded 
from popular outrage by the princes, spiritual and temporal, 
who countenanced their usury, snaring the profits, and 
availed themselves, not without strict precautions, of their 
medical skill and administrative ability. We find them 
as land-owners, physicians and civil officials in Provence 
and Languedoc. At Montpellier, under the wing of the 
Count of Toulouse, there flourished a Jewish academy 
where medicine and Rabbinical literature were cultivated 
successfully — an institution which helped much to create 
and promote a medical profession throughout Southern 
Europe, while the great School of Salerno also owed 
much to Jewish talent. In a word, medical studies in the 
Middle Ages were deeply indebted to the Hebrew doctors. 
They were the first to discard the ancient belief in the 
demoniacal origin of disease and to substitute physic for 
exorcisms. Their adoption of rational methods in the 
treatment of patients helped to revolutionise the theory 
and practice of medicine, to emancipate the European 
mind from superstition, and to earn for them the cordial 
detestation of the monks and priests, whose relics and 
prayers were discredited and whose incomes decreased in 
proportion to the Jewish practitioners' success. Thus 
the animosity of the lower clergy against the mediaeval 
Jew may, in part, be traced to professional rivalry. 

In Spain the Jews had always been most numerous and 
prosperous. Under the Saracen conquerors, with few 
exceptions, — as, for instance, the persecution by Ibn 
Tumart, — they enjoyed a peace such as they had seldom 
experienced under Christian rule. The liberty usually 


accorded to them enabled the Spanish Jews to attain dis- 
tinction in other fields of activity besides money-lending. 
They were farmers, land-owners and slave-dealers. The 
last kind of trade was particularly encouraged by the 
Caliphs of Andalusia who formed their bodyguards of 
picked Slavonian slaves. They also were physicians, 
financiers, civil administrators, and they vied with their 
Mohammedan masters in learning as well as in material 
splendour and love of display. The influence of 
Moorish culture on the spiritual and intellectual develop- 
ment of the Spanish Jews has been very ably outlined by 
a modern Jewish writer in the following words : — " The 
milder rule of the Moslem gave the Jew a needed pause 
in the struggle for existence, and the similarity of the 
Semitic genius in both prevented the perceptible tendency 
to narrowness, and brought the Jewish mind again into 
free contact with the world's thought. . . . The first 
aim of the Caliphs, after the victory of Islam was assured, 
was to resuscitate Greek science and philosophy. Trans- 
lators were employed to bring forth from their Syriac 
tombs Aristotle and Galen. And the Jews at once took 
part in this Semitic renaissance." 1 The writer might 
have added that it was mainly through the instrumentality 
of the Jews that this Arabic resuscitation of Hellenic 
philosophy and science was transmitted from Islam to 
Christendom. Learned Jews, familiar with both languages, 
rendered the Arabic translations of Aristotle into Latin, 
thus bringing them within reach of the Schoolmen, 
who valued these versions highly, not only for their 
fidelity to the original but also for the explanatory 
comments which accompanied the text. In fact, the 
first acquaintance of mediaeval Europe with any of the 
Aristotelian writings, other than the Organon, was due 
to the Arabs and Jews of Spain. 2 Thus these two Semitic 
races, by a dispensation of fate the irony of which was 
not to become apparent until our own day, were the first 
to stimulate in Western students a thirst for Hellenic 

1 Joseph Jacobs, " The God of Israel " in the Nineteenth Century, 
September 1879. 

2 J. E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, pp. 539 fol. 


literature and to supply them with the means of gratify- 
ing it. 

The first school founded by the Jews in Spain was that 
of Cordova (948), followed by those of Toledo, Barcelona 
and Granada. All these institutions were thronged with 
eager students and formed centres of light, the rays 
whereof shone all the brighter amid the gloom of the 
Dark Ages. Not only Talmudic, Biblical, and Cabbalistic 
lore were there cultivated, but secular philosophy was 
diligently studied ; and Aristotle was revered as a disciple 
of Solomon! Poetry, music, mathematics, astronomy, 
metaphysics and medicine were also included in the 
curriculum, and the Spanish Jews, as the result of this 
encyclopaedic training, were men of the broadest and 
most varied culture; the same individual often combin- 
ing in his own person the subtleties of the Rabbinical 
scholar with the elegant taste of a poet ; the sagacity of 
a financier with the practical skill of a physician. 

All these talents are found embodied in Abu-Yussuf 915-970 
Chasdai of Cordova, a European in every respect except 
religion and name. From his father Chasdai inherited 
great wealth and liberal views on its uses. He studied 
the science of medicine, but he shone especially as a 
patron and man of letters, and as a diplomatist. Hebrew, 
Arabic, and Latin were almost equally familiar to him. 
He rendered brilliant political services to Caliph Abdul- 
Rahman III. in his relations with the Christian sovereigns 
of Northern Spain and other European potentates, and he 
was rewarded by his master with a post which in reality, 
though not in name, represented the powers of a Minister 
of Foreign Affairs, of Trade, and of Finance, all in one — an 
elevation which enabled Chasdai "to take the oppressor's 
yoke from his people," and " to break the scourge that 
wounded it." Fate decreed that envoys from the Byzan- 
tine persecutors of the Jews should come to Cordova to 
solicit the aid of the Western against the Eastern Caliphs, 
and they were received by the Jewish Minister. 

Under the paternal, if at times despotic, rule of the 
Caliphs the Hebrew character cast away some of its stern- 
ness and austerity — a change which is pleasantly reflected 


in the literature of the period. The Hebrew Muse 
ceased to weep and wail over old misfortunes, and the 
lays of the Hispano-Jewish minstrels laugh with the 
sunshine or sigh with the lyric tenderness of their 
new country. These traits are brilliantly illustrated 
by the work of the Castilian poet Jehuda Halevi, 
born in 1086, and thus described by an enthusiastic 
co-religionist : 

" Pure and true, without blemish, 
Were both his song and his soul. 
When the Creator had formed this soul, 
Pleased with Himself at His work, 
He kissed the beautiful creation, 
And the glorious echo of his holy kiss 
Trembles yet in every song of the poet, 
Sanctified through this Divine grace." 

There is nothing mournful in Halevi's poetry. In his 
early youth he sang of wine and of the gazelle-like eyes of 
his beloved, of her rosy lips, of her raven hair, and of her 
unfaithfulness. In his manhood he studied the Talmud, 
natural science, and metaphysics. He also, like many 
other Jewish writers, practised medicine; not with con- 
spicuous success, as he naively confesses in a letter to a 
friend : " I occupy myself in the hours which belong 
neither to the day nor to the night with the vanity of 
medical science, although I am unable to heal." Halevi's 
heart remained wholly devoted to poetry, and his master- 
piece is the Songs of Zion, wherein he pours forth all 
that deep veneration for the past and that ardent belief 
in the future glory of Israel, which have inspired Jewish 
genius through the ages. Jehuda voices the national 
sentiment in the following touching lines: 

" O City of the world, beauteous in proud splendour, 
From the far West, behold me solicitous on thy behalf ! 
Oh that I had eagle's wings, that I might fly to thee, 
Till I wet thy dust with my flowing tears ! 
My heart is in the East, 
Whilst I tarry in the West. 
How may I be joyous, 
Or where find my pleasure ? 
How fulfil my vow, 
O Zion ! when I am in the power of Edom, 


And bend beneath Arabia's yoke ? 

Truly Spain's welfare concerns me not ; 

Let me but behold thy precious dust, 

And gaze upon the spot where once the Temple stood." 

Nor was the longing a mere matter of sentiment. 
Jehuda was earnestly convinced that Israel could not have 
a national existence outside the Holy Land. He urged 
his people to quit the fields of Edom and to seek its 
native home in Zion. But the cry aroused no echo. 
The Jews of Spain, allowed to enjoy the comforts and 
luxuries of existence, felt no desire to exchange the real 
for a wild chase after the ideal. The poet, however, 
proved his own sincerity by undertaking a weary pilgrim- 
age to Jerusalem. Leaving his peaceful home, his only 
daughter, his friends, his pupils, and his studies, he set 
out on his adventurous journey, accompanied by the good 
wishes and praises of numerous admirers through Spain. 
The long and stormy voyage and the hardships thereof 
did not quench the poet's enthusiasm for the Holy Land : 

" The sea rages, my soul rejoices ; 
It draws near the Temple of its God ! " 

At Alexandria, Halevi was met by a crowd of Jews to 
whom his name was known and dear. They entertained 
him sumptuously, but could not prevail upon him to 
relinquish his aim. Once more Halevi resisted the seduc- 
tions of safety and comfort and set out for Jerusalem, 
which he found in the possession of unsympathetic Chris- 
tian princes and bishops. His sentiments of disillusion 
and sorrow are commemorated in the lines : 

" Mine eye longed to behold Thy glory, 
But, as if I were deemed unworthy, 
I could only tread on the threshold of Thy Temple. 
I must also endure the sufferings of my people ; 
Therefore I wander aimlessly about, 
As I dare not pay homage to any other being." 1 

1 H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iii. p. 349. For some fine 
translations of Jehuda Halevi's poems the reader may turn to Mrs. H. 
Lucas' The Jewish Tear (Macmillan, 1898) and to Mrs. R. N. Salaman's 
Songs of Exile (Macmillan, 1905). Jehuda Halevi's philosophical 
dialogue the Khazari has recently been translated into English by 
Dr. H. Hirschfeld (Routledge, 1905). 


This prophet and singer of Zionism died in the land 
which his soul loved so dearly. 

Another great Jew of Spain was Moses Maimonides, 
born at Cordova in 1135. He came of a long line of 
Rabbis, who traced their descent from the royal house of 
David, and he might be described as a Tulmudist by 
inheritance as well as by training. He had scarcely com- 
pleted his thirteenth year when Cordova was taken by the 
fanatical sect of the Almohades, who offered to the Jews 
and Christians of the city the alternatives of Islam or 
death. The ancient Jewish community was broken up, 
and the family of Maimonides migrated to Almeria. But 
this town also, three years later, fell into the hands of the 
same fanatical Mohammedans, and the Jews and Chris- 
tians were once more driven forth to seek freedom of 
worship elsewhere. Henceforward the family of Maimo- 
nides wandered hither and thither through Spain, unable 
to find a home. But this roaming life did not prevent 
the youth from attaining great proficiency in various 
branches of learning, sacred and profane. His father's 
teaching was always ready at hand, and his own quick 
and clear intellect found it easy to acquire and to digest 
the lessons of experience. Aristotle, as has been said, was 
much studied, though little understood, by the Jews and 
Arabs of Spain. Maimonides' intellect had much in 
common with the Greek philosopher's scientific mind, 
while he possessed a sense of religion to which the Greek 
was a stranger. In the character of Maimonides the two 
temperaments, the Hebraic and the Hellenic, the reason- 
ing and the emotional, met in a harmonious combination. 
Truth in thought as well as in action, was the object for 
which he strove, and the idle fictions of poetry were as 
severely condemned by him as by the mediaeval monks ; 
but he was far from adopting the monastic definition of 
poetry as " the Devil's wine." His earnestness was free 
from fanaticism, and he could be severe without being 
savage. Unsparing in his scorn of what he considered 
false, he was most forbearing towards the victims of false- 
hood. Like many earnest men, Maimonides was born a 
missionary. Neither fatigue of body nor pain of mind 


deterred him from the diffusion of what he deemed to be 
the light, and to the propagation of rational Judaism he 
devoted his whole life ungrudgingly and unfalteringly. 
To this end he made himself master of all the know- 
ledge accessible in his time. He studied ancient 
Paganism as well as contemporary Islam and Christianity ; 
philosophy, medicine, logic, mathematics, and astronomy. 
Thus equipped, he entered the arena. 

His people, after ten years' wandering in Spain, had 
repaired to Fez, where persecution had driven many Jews 
to assume the mask of Mohammedanism — a form of 
compulsory hypocrisy, examples of which abounded in 
every country. A zealot wrote a pamphlet denouncing 
these apparent renegades as traitors to the cause of Israel. 
Maimonides, who was one of them, undertook to vindicate 
their conduct. But, while defending their prudence, he 
strove to combat their lukewarmness, and to confirm the 
wavering; endeavours which nearly cost him his life at 
the hands of the Mohammedans. In the dead of night 
he and his family embarked on board a vessel bound to 
Palestine. After a month's perilous voyage the refugees 
landed at St. Jean d'Acre (Acco), whence they proceeded 
to Jerusalem, then in Christian hands, and finally reached 
Egypt. There Maimonides lost his father first, and then 
his brother, suffered severely in his health and fortune, 
and was obliged to eke out a modest livelihood by the 
practice of medicine. But in the midst of all afflictions 
and occupations he continued his first great work on the 
Talmud, which appeared in 1168 under the characteristic 
title, The Light. This work, though it failed to make its 
mark among the Jews of Egypt, gradually brought fame 
to the author abroad. In 1175 he was already revered as 
a great Rabbinical authority, and questions bearing on 
religion and law were submitted to him from all parts of 
Israel. At the same time he busied himself with the 
affairs of the Cairo community of which he was made 
Rabbi. In 11 80 he completed his Religious Code, in 
which he wedded Judaism to philosophy. The object of 
the book was to introduce light and limit into the chaos 
of Biblical and Talmudical teaching. The Code attained 


wide popularity, and copies of it were diligently conned in 
every corner of the Jewish world from India in the East 
to Spain in the West. The learning as well as the 
character of Maimonides excited universal respect, and 
many were the titles bestowed upon the sage by his 
admiring co-religionists. Maimonides was proclaimed 
" the Enlightener of the eyes of Israel." Opposition and 
calumny, the involuntary tributes which envy pays to 
success, came in due course ; but Maimonides who had 
not been intoxicated by praise did not suffer himself to be 
intimidated by obloquy. His reputation as a physician was 
almost as great as his theological renown; a Mohammedan 
poet declares that " Galen's art heals only the body, but 
Maimonides' the body and soul " ; Saladin, then Vizier 
of Egypt, engaged him as his physician, and Richard 
Coeur de Lion, who during his crusade in the Holy Land 
heard of Maimonides, invited him to be his physician in 
ordinary, an honour which the sage declined. Thanks to 
the high esteem in which he was held by the Moham- 
medan rulers of Egypt, Maimonides was, in about 1187, 
made supreme and hereditary head of all the Egyptian 
communities. While at the height of his power and 
popularity Maimonides found himself once more exposed 
to the danger which he had so narrowly escaped in 
Morocco. A traveller from that country recognised in 
the official chief of the Hebrew community of Egypt his 
pseudo-Mohammedan friend of Fez, and denounced him 
as an apostate. The penalty for apostacy prescribed by 
the Laws of Islam is death. Maimonides, however, 
succeeded in convincing the Vizier of the Moorish visitor's 
mistake, and thus was enabled to return to the calm 
pursuit of his labours, communal, medical and philo- 
sophical. Soon afterwards Palestine was re-conquered by 
Saladin, and the Jews were allowed to settle in Jerusalem 
— a boon for which Maimonides is supposed to be 

In the midst of his manifold duties, and his feud with 

a rival Rabbi of Baghdad, Maimonides found time to 

1 1 90 produce another philosophical work, the Guide to the 

Perplexed, a work which forms the crown of his intellectual 


achievement, and which has been pronounced "perhaps 
the most remarkable metaphysical tour de force in the 
history of human thought." 1 At any rate, it is a brave 
attempt at reconciliation between Aristotelian philosophy 
and Judaic religion, between Rationalism and Revelation, 
between Hellenic free-thought and Hebrew feeling. 
Therein is propounded the eternal problem of the origin 
and destiny of things, and solved in a manner that carried 
conviction at the time. The book has, indeed, been a 
guide to the perplexed for many generations, and, though 
it has not always commanded obedience among the Jews, 
it has served as a stimulus to enquiring minds and, 
through mediaeval scholasticism, has exercised an abiding 
influence over Christian theology. If metaphysical specu- 
lation be of any value to mankind, the world owes a great 
debt to the work of Maimonides. He died in 1204, at 
the age of seventy, full of years and honours, and his end 
was followed by a general outburst of grief. In Egypt 
both Jews and Mohammedans held a public mourning for 
three days, in Jerusalem a public fast was proclaimed, and 
similar funeral services and fasts were observed in many 
synagogues all over the world. The verdict of his 
contemporaries was, " From Moses the Prophet till Moses 
Maimonides there has never appeared his equal." Pos- 
terity was not so unanimous in its appreciation. His 
tomb at Tiberias was adorned with the epitaph: 

" Here lies a man, and yet no man. 
If thou wert a man, Angels of heaven 
Must have overshadowed thy mother." 

This inscription was in later times replaced by the 
following : 

" Here lies Moses Maimonides, the excommunicated heretic." 2 

The two epitaphs form an epitome of the sage's pos- 
thumous career — characteristic, though hardly unique. 
Maimonides had to share the fate of all advocates of 

1 Joseph Jacobs, "The God of Israel," The Nineteenth Century, 
September, 1879. ^he Guide has been translated into English by Dr. 
M. Friedlander (1885 ; new edition, Routledge, 1904). 

2 H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iii. p. 509. 


compromise ere he was accepted as the oracle of Jewish 
orthodoxy. 1 

The condition of Israel across the Pyrenees must now 
engage our attention. 
768-814 Charlemagne, the great founder of the Frankish Empire, 
in spite of his enthusiasm for the advancement of the 
Catholic faith and in defiance of the decrees of a Church 
which he adored, and by which he was afterwards honoured 
as a saint, considered it his duty to contribute to the 
progress of the Jewish colonies in France and Germany. 
If the Churchman saw in the Jews the enemies of Christ, 
the statesman saw in them useful subjects, through whose 
international connections the interests of his Empire might 
be served. Among other liberties, he allowed them to 
act as intermediaries in the slave trade. Exempt from 
the burdens as well as from the honours of chivalry on 
one hand, and from the degradation of the peasantry 
on the other, the Jews at this period devoted all their 
energies to commerce. But Charlemagne was more than 
an imperial shopkeeper. The spiritual needs of his 
subjects, Jewish no less than Christian, received as much 
attention from him as their material welfare. Though 
his own learning was of very late and limited growth, this 
great soldier was keenly alive to the value of scholarship, 
and he endeavoured to diffuse education by encouraging 
learned men of both creeds to bring their lights from 
Italy to the dark regions of the North. Under his long 
reign the Jews prospered and spread over many parts of 
Germany. In the ninth century great Jewish colonies 
were to be found in Magdeburg, Mersburg, and Ratisbon, 
whence they penetrated into the Slavonic lands of Bohemia 
and Poland. But even Charlemagne could not quite 
overlook the chasm which separated the Jew from the 
Christian. In deposing against a Christian, the Jewish 
witness was obliged to stand within a circle of thorns, to 
hold the Torah in his right hand, and to call down upon 
himself frightful curses if he spoke not the truth. The 
Jews were also forbidden to buy or sell sacred church 

1 For Maimonides see the volume on the subject by D. Yellin and 
I. Abrahams in the Jeivish Worthies Series, Vol. I. (Macmillan, 1903). 


vessels, to receive Christian hostages for debt, and to 
trade in wine and cereals. 

The favourable condition of Israel in Western Europe, 
with the exception of the above prohibitions, lasted under 
Charlemagne's successor Louis, who, a pious Catholic 814-840 
though he was, did not refrain from bestowing benefits 
upon the Jews and from defending them against popular 
prejudice and ecclesiastical oppression. Influenced partly 
by the principles of enlightened statesmanship which he 
had inherited from his father, and partly by the philo- 
judaism of his second wife Judith, he showered many 
favours upon the Jews. The works of the Jewish writers, 
Josephus and Philo, were assiduously studied at Court. 
Jews and Jewesses were received and petted in royal 
circles, and their co-religionists were held in high esteem 
by the nobility. They were exempt from the barbarous 
punishment of the scourge and from the ordeals of fire 
and water. They were permitted to employ Christian 
workmen and to own Christian slaves, to settle their 
disputes in their own courts of justice, to build new 
synagogues, to farm the revenues of the realm, and to 
carry on trade freely. For their sake the market- 
day was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday. In 
return for all these privileges they had to pay a tax 
to the treasury, which exercised a supervision over their 

But this very toleration excited the resentment of strict 
Catholics, who could not see without disgust the canons 
of the Church disregarded and her enemies honoured. 
The clerical party, under the leadership of St. Agobard, 
Bishop of Lyons, wished to reduce the Jews to the 
position which they occupied under the bigoted Mero- 
vingian dynasty. An opportunity for the expression of 
these feelings offered itself in an incident such as has 
often proved the immediate cause of bloodshed between 
the faithful and unbelievers in the Ottoman Empire. A 
female slave of a rich Jew of Lyons ran away from 
her master and sought freedom in baptism. The 
Jews demanded the restoration of the slave. The 
Bishop refused to comply. The Court supported the 


Jews, the clerical party the Bishop. The Emperor 
endeavoured to restore peace by summoning a council 
wherein the bishops and the heads of the Jewish com- 
munity might settle their differences by argument. The 
adversaries met and " roared rather than spoke " to each 
other. The council broke up, and the feud continued to 
rage. The Bishop preached to his flock sermons hostile 
to the Jews. The friends of the latter intrigued in the 
Imperial Court on their behalf, and prevailed upon the 
Emperor to command St. Agobard to desist from his 

828 oratorical exercises, and the Governor of Lyons to lend 
his assistance to the Jews. 

The bellicose saint paid no heed to the Imperial man- 
date, and the Emperor was obliged to send two courtiers 
to enforce respect for his orders ; but they failed. The 
bishop then appealed to his brother prelates, entreating 
them to bring home to Louis his sinful conduct. His 
appeal met with hearty response. It was generally felt 
that the question was a test of the relative strength of 
Church and Court, and the supporters of the one were 
as determined to uphold their cause as were the partisans 
of the other. A number of prelates met at Lyons and 
held a consultation as to the best means of humbling the 
Jews and bringing the Emperor to the path of orthodoxy. 
The fruit of this meeting was a joint letter of protest 

829 " concerning the superstitions of the Jews," addressed 
to Louis. The manifesto produced no result, and in 
the following year the Bishop of Lyons joined the 
conspiracy of the Emperor's sons against their father, 
was worsted, and paid for his treason by temporary 
exile to Italy, whence, however, he soon returned on 
condition, it seems, that he should leave the Jews 

The struggle only served to demonstrate the Emperor's 
power and determination to protect his material interests 
in the teeth of ecclesiastical opposition. Nor did Louis 
the "Pious" withdraw his countenance from the Jews 
even after the scandalous apostasy of his favourite Bishop 

838 Bodo to Judaism — an event which produced an enormous 
shock through Frankish Christendom, especially as it 


occurred directly after the bishop's visit to Rome. 1 It 
is probable that a closer inspection of the Holy See 
accelerated Bodo's resolution, though contemporary in- 
dignation traced it to the direct agency of Satan. 

The golden age of Franko- Jewish history continued 
under Charles the Bald, son of Louis and Judith, who 843 
numbered amongst his closest friends the Jewish physician 
Zedekiah and another Jew called Judah. But the same 
causes brought about similar effects. The favour shown 
to the Jews by Louis's successor excited the enmity of the 
pious, who found a leader in Agobard's successor and 
other bishops, and held several councils with the object of 
inventing means for the curtailment of imperial power, the 
exaltation of ecclesiastical authority, and the suppression of 
the Jews. Again letters were addressed to the Emperor, 
in which he was recommended to enforce towards the 
murderers of Christ the measures which had been origi- 
nated by Constantine the Great and Theodosius the 
Younger, adopted by the Spanish Visigoths and the 
Merovingian Kings of France, and sanctioned by the 
unanimous intolerance of so many Synods in the East 
and West. But these new enemies of the Jews proved 
no more successful than their predecessors. Charles the 
Bald contented himself with extorting one-tenth of their 
earnings from the Jews, while his Christian subjects paid 877 
one-eleventh. Thanks to their commercial enterprise 
and integrity the "murderers of Christ" continued 
to prosper under the judicious fleecing of the Carlo- 
vingians, until the partition of the empire into a number 
of small states, the wane of the secular and the growth 
of the spiritual power brought about a change. 

Charles the Simple was induced by his love of God and 899-914 
fear of the Pope to surrender all the lands and vineyards 
of the Jews in the Duchy of Narbonne to the Church. 
Boso, King of Burgundy and Provence, also made to the 
Church a gift of the property of his Jewish subjects, and 
this cavalier treatment of the wretched people continued 

1 Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesckichte der Juden in Rom, i. pp. 136 fol. In 
general this work should be consulted for all points of contact between 
the Papacy and Judaism in the middle ages. 


under the first Capets, their degradation keeping pace with 
the progress of Papal influence. So deep was the suspicion 
now inspired by them, that when King Hugh Capet died 
in 996 his Jewish physician was generally accused of having 
murdered him. 

A parallel evolution took place in Germany. When 
Otto the Great wished to show his piety by endowing the 

965 newly-built church of Magdeburg, he did so by bestowing 
upon it the revenue which he derived from the Jews. 
Likewise Otto II., sixteen years later, made an offering of 
the Jews of Merseburg to the local bishops. At the 
beginning of the eleventh century there occurred in 
Germany an event which may be regarded as the prelude 
to the subsequent persecutions of Judaism. The chaplain 
of the Duke Conrad suddenly scandalised the Christian 

1005 world by going over to the Synagogue, and exasperated 
the brethren whom he had forsaken by producing a 
scurrilous lampoon on Christianity. The Emperor Henry 
caused to be published a reply in every respect worthy of 
the apostate's pamphlet. Six years after the Jews were 
driven forth from Mayence, a decree was issued ordering 
the Jews of various towns to be branded, that they might 
not seek refuge in baptism, and so rigorous was the perse- 
cution that a contemporary Jewish poet commemorates it 
in lugubrious songs, wherein he expresses the fear that the 
children of Israel might be forced to forget the faith of 
their fathers. But the alarm was premature. Though, as 
a general rule, traffic in goods and in money were the only 
callings left open to the Jews, in some of the German states 
they still possessed the rights of citizenship and were per- 
mitted to own real estate. 

Thus the first period of the mediaeval drama came to a 
close, as the second was opening. 



Towards the end of the eleventh century there arose in 
Europe a gale of religious enthusiasm that boded no good 
to infidels. The zealous temper which at an earlier 
period had found a congenial pursuit in the extirpation of 
heathenism from Saxony, Lithuania, Poland, and the 
Baltic provinces, and in the suppression of heresy among 
the Vaudois, the Cathari or Albigenses, and others at a 
later, was now to be diverted into a different channel. 
During the preceding ages the authority of the Popes had 
been advancing with stealthy, but undeviating and steady, 
strides. Their own industry, foresight, and prudence 
laid the foundations of their political power ; the piety 
and the ignorance of the nations which recognised their 
spiritual rule consolidated it. Every succeeding age 
found the Bishop of Rome in a higher position than that 
occupied by his predecessors, until there came one who 
was fitted to make use of the immense heritage of 
authority bequeathed to him. 

Gregory VII. , surnamed Hildebrand, ascended St. 
Peter's throne in 1073. Though born in an obscure 
village and of humble parentage, he was a person 
endowed by nature with all the qualities necessary to 
make a successful master of men : strong and ambitious, 
and possessed of an ideal, he was a stranger to fear as to 
scruple. It was related of him that, whilst a lad in his 
father's workshop and ignorant of letters, he accidentally 
framed out of little bits of wood the words : " His 
dominion shall be from one sea to the other." To his 
contemporaries the story was prophetic (we may be 


content to regard it, true or not, as characteristic) of his 
career. Gregory's dream was to deliver the papacy from 
the secular influence of the Emperor and to establish a 
theocratic Empire. This was the guiding principle of his 
policy, and, though his plans were flexible to circum- 
stance, his purpose remained fixed. Like all great men, 
Hildebrand knew that, where there is a strong will, all 
roads lead to success. The first step to this end was the 
purification of the Church of the corruption into which it 
had sunk under his depraved predecessors, and the 
organisation of its soldiers under strict rules of discipline. 
This was effected by the suppression of simony and the 
enforcement of celibacy on the clergy. At the same time 
Gregory did not neglect that which was the main object 
of his life : to make Europe a vassal state to the 
pontifical see. The thunderbolts of excommunication, 
which Gregory, the son of Bonic the carpenter, wielded 
with Zeus-like majesty and impartiality, were freely 
hurled against his enemies in the East and "West. In the 
Emperor Henry IV. the Pope met an adversary worthy 
of his heavenly artillery. But, undismayed by Henry's 
power, and unrestrained by considerations of humanity, 
he plunged Christendom into that long-drawn strife 
between the Guelf and Ghibelline factions which makes 
the history of Europe for generations a melancholy tale of 
murder and outrage, ending in a blood-stained triumph 
for St. Peter. 

After having temporarily humbled Henry IV. and 
forced him in the dead of winter to do penance in his 
shirt, the iron Pope turned his weapons against the Jews. 
In 1078 he promulgated a canonical law forbidding the 
hated people to hold any official post in Christendom, and 
especially in Spain. Alfonso VI., King of Castile, two 
years later received an Apostolic epistle congratulating 
him on his successes over the Mohammedans, and 
admonishing him that " he must cease to sufFer the Jews 
to rule over the Christians, and to exercise authority over 
them," for such conduct, his Holiness affirmed, was " the 
same as oppressing God's Church and exalting Satan's 
Synagogue. To wish to please Christ's enemies," he 


added, " means to treat Christ himself with contumely." 
However, Alfonso was too busy in the campaign against 
his own enemies to devote much attention to the enemies 
of Christ — or of Gregory Hildebrand. None the less, 
the letter marks an epoch. What hitherto was pre- 
judice now became law. 

In Germany also the Pope's anti-Jewish decrees met 
with only partial obedience. Bishop Rudiger of Speyer 
granted many privileges to the Jews of his diocese. 
Their Chief Rabbi enjoyed the same judicial authority 
over his own community as the burgomaster over the 
Christian burgesses. The Jews were allowed to buy 
Christian slaves and to defend themselves against the 
intrusion of the mob. For all these boons they paid 
three and a half pounds of gold annually. The Emperor 
Henry IV., Gregory's antagonist, confirmed and aug- 
mented these privileges. He forbade his subjects, under 
severe penalties, to compel the Jews, or their slaves, to be 
baptized. In litigation between Jews and Christians the 
Jewish law and form of oath were to be followed ; and 
the former were exempted from the ordeals of fire and 
water. But in spite of these favours their lot was such as 
to encourage Messianic expectations. The Redeemer, a 
prince of the house of David, was confidently awaited 
about this time (1096) to lead the chosen people back to 
the Holy Land. However, fate had other things in store 
for them. 

It was a time when the Eastern and Western halves 
of mankind agreed in regarding the conversion, or, at 
least, the extermination of each other as their divinely 
appointed task. If the followers of Mohammed con- 
sidered it an article of faith that the propagation of 
Islam at all costs was the supreme duty of every true 
believer, the propagation of the belief in the divinity 
of Christ, or the annihilation of those who denied it, 
was not less firmly held by all good Christians as a 
sacred obligation. A collision between the rival creeds 
was inevitable. All that was wanting was union on the 
part of the Christians equal to that which characterised 
the Mohammedans. This consummation was prepared 


by Peter the Hermit and was brought about by the 
exertions of the Pope. 
095 At the great Council of Clermont Urban II. described 
to the noble crowd of prelates and barons, assembled 
from all parts of Western Christendom, the sufferings of 
the Eastern Christians at the hands of the Saracens. 
With burning eloquence, and, no doubt, considerable 
exaggeration, he depicted the dark deeds of " the enemies 
of God " : their destruction and desecration of Christian 
churches ; their slaughter, torture, and forcible conversion 
of Christian men, and their violation of Christian women ; 
and he ended with a passionate appeal to all present to 
hasten to the assistance of the Holy Land, <c enslaved by 
the godless and calling aloud to be delivered" ; promising, 
at the same time, a plenary indulgence and general 
remission of sins to all who should enlist under the banner 
of the Cross. The effect of the Pontiff's harangue on his 
chivalrous, sinful, and bigoted hearers was stupendous. 
It was the first official instigation to that hatred of the 
non-European and non-Christian which, however loth we 
may be to acknowledge the fact, in a less furious form, 
still survives amongst us. Many obeyed the summons 
with fervour born of pure piety ; many more saw in the 
enterprise a comparatively cheap means of obtaining 
pardon for all their crimes, past and to come ; while 
others welcomed an opportunity for satisfying their 
adventurous dispositions, for gaining wealth and renown, 
or for quenching in the blood of foreigners that fanatical 
zeal which could not find its full gratification in the 
butchery of fellow-countrymen. 

Among such foreigners — Asiatic at once and infidel — 
the nearest were the Jews. Cruelty, like its opposite, 
begins at home. It was natural that the champions of 
the Cross should begin the vindication of their sacred 
emblem by the extermination of the race which had made 
so criminal a use of it. The shadow of the Old Crime 
once more fell upon the hapless people, and darkened 
their lives. Religious frenzy kindled the ancient feud, 
and greed fanned it. The vast and motley rabble of 
savage peasants who, under the command of a monk and 


the guidance of a goat, followed in the wake of the 
knightly army, incited by the lower clergy, fell upon the 
Jewish colonies which lay along their route through 
Central Europe — at Rouen, on the Moselle and the 
Rhine, at Verdun, Treves, Speyer, Metz, Cologne, 
Mayence, Worms, Strasburg — massacring, pillaging, raping, 
and baptizing, without remorse or restraint. 

But the Jews, as on so many occasions before and since, 
so now proved in a practical and ghastly manner that 
they dreaded death less than apostasy. Many of them 
met bigotry with bigotry, and cheated their assailants of 
both glory and gain by committing their property, their 
families and themselves to destruction. Martyrdom is a 
pathetic yet forcible reply to oppression. At Treves the 
Jews, on hearing that the holy army was drawing near, 
were so terrified that some of them killed their own 
children ; matrons and maidens drowned themselves in 
the Moselle in order to escape baptism or disgrace ; and 
the rest of the community vainly implored the hard- 
hearted Bishop for protection. His answer was that 
nothing could save them but conversion. Thereupon 
the wretches hastened to be converted. The scene must 
have been a perfect study in the grimly ludicrous. The 
enemy was outside ready to pounce upon his prey. The 
latter said to the Bishop: "Tell us quickly what to 
believe." The Bishop recited the creed, and the converts 
repeated it after him with all the fervour and fluency 
which the fear of death can only inspire. 

At Speyer the Jews stoutly refused to be baptized, and 
many were, therefore, massacred. Those who succeeded 
in escaping sought shelter in the palace of the Bishop, 
who not only protected them, but incurred the censures 
of his contemporaries by ordering the execution of some 
of the holy murderers. A similar tragedy was acted at 
Worms, where some of the victims were temporarily 
saved by the Bishop, while a few were baptized, and the 
rest, men and women, committed suicide. At Mayence, 
they were slaughtered in the Archbishop's palace, where 
they had taken refuge, and many murdered each other 
rather than betray their faith. At Cologne the majority 


of the community were rescued by the good burghers 
and their humane Bishop Hermann III. The Emperor 
Henry IV. also, on his return from his third Italian cam- 
paign, publicly denounced the crimes of the Crusaders, 
instituted proceedings against the Archbishop of Mayence, 
who had shared the spoils of the Jews, and permitted the 

1097 surviving converts to return to Judaism ; thereby drawing 
down upon himself an indignant reproof from his own 
antipope, Clement III., on whose behalf he had under- 
taken that expedition to Italy. For, however grateful 
Clement might be to Henry, he could not conscientiously 
connive at his impious interference with the designs of 

1 146 Similar scenes were repeated at the Second Crusade. 
Pope Eugenius III. issued a Bull, announcing that all 
who joined in the Holy War would be released from the 
interest which they owed to the Jewish money-lenders. 
St. Bernard seconded the Pope's recruiting efforts. Peter 
the Venerable, Abbot of Clugny, exerted himself by 
might and main to inflame King Louis VII. of France 
and other noble Crusaders against the Jews : " Of what 
use is it," wrote he to the king, " to go forth to seek the 
enemies of Christendom in distant lands, if the blas- 
phemous Jews, who are much worse than the Saracens, 
are permitted in our very midst to scoff with impunity at 
Christ and the Sacrament ? . . . Yet, I do not require 
you to put to death these accursed beings, because it is 
written ' Do not slay them.' God does not wish to 
annihilate them, but like Cain, the Fratricide, they must 
be made to suffer fearful torments, and continue reserved 
for greater ignominy, and to an existence more bitter than 
death." In conformity with this charitable doctrine, the 
Jews of France were forced to yield their ill-gotten gains 
for the service of the cause of God. 

Far worse was their fate in Germany. Even the partial 
protection which the citizens of the Rhineland had afforded 
the persecuted people in the First Crusade was now with- 
drawn, and the undisciplined mob gave the reins to the 
gratification of its religious zeal and of its lust. St. 
Bernard endeavoured to curb the demon of fanaticism,. 


which his own eloquence had raised, by admonishing the 
enthusiasts, with more earnestness than consistency, that 
" the Jews are not to be persecuted, not to be butchered." 
But his well-meant efforts produced no other effect than 
to turn the fury of the mob against himself; for a rival 
monk, Rudolf, had been going up and down the Rhine- 
land, everywhere preaching, with tears in his eyes, that all 
Jews who were found by the Crusaders should be slain as 
u murderers of our dear Lord " — an appeal far more 
acceptable to the brutal herd of besotted hinds to whom 
it was addressed. The persecution commenced at Treves, 
in August, 1 1 46, where a Jew was seized by the Crusaders, 
and, on refusing to be saved by baptism, was murdered 
and mutilated. Soon afterwards a Jewess at Speyer was 
tortured on the rack. Many others were waylaid and 
made to suffer for their constancy at Wilrsburg and else- 
where. From Germany the frenzy passed into France. 
At Carenton, Rameru, and Sully the Jews were hunted 
and massacred. 

For one who, in the face of such deeds, strives to pre- 
serve his faith in human nature, it is reassuring to note 
that the German bishops exerted themselves on behalf of 
the miserable victims, and, by accepting a simulated and 
temporary conversion, rescued many from martyrdom. 
The Emperor also extended to them his protection. But 
this favour was to cost the recipients dearly. Henceforth 
the German Jews were regarded as the Emperor's proteges^ 
which gradually came to mean the Emperor's serfs. All 
they possessed, including their families and their own 
persons, were the Emperor's chattels to be bought, sold, 
or pledged by him at pleasure. They were designated 
" Chamber-servants " (Servi Camerae or Kammerknechte) ; 
a servitude, however, that had the advantage of making 
it the Emperor's interest to safeguard them against 
oppression, and to suffer no one to fleece them but 

And yet, such is the wonderful vitality of the race, the 
Jewish traveller, Benjamin of Tudela, who visited the 
Jewry on the Rhine only seventy years after the First, 
and twenty after the Second, Crusade, describes these 


colonies as rich in money and culture and hope; the 
brethren whom he found there as hospitable, cheerfully 
alive, and awaiting the Messiah. This expectation had 
never been entertained in vain. The wish had always 
yielded its own fulfilment. About this time, it gave rise 
to David Alroy, another Redeemer destined to delude 
the hapless nation for a while. He appeared in Asia 
Minor, and summoned his brethren to his banner. Many 
gave up all they possessed in order to respond to the call, 
and the enthusiasm spread from Baghdad to East and 
West. But the Messiah was excommunicated by the 
Synagogue, and murdered by his own father-in-law 
while asleep. According to another version, 1 Alroy, when 
face to face with the Sultan, exclaimed : "Cut off my head 
and I shall yet live." He thus astutely exchanged 
prompt death for lingering torture. Many Jews, how- 
ever, continued to believe in him for generations after 
his death. 

The same spirit of religious mania which gave birth and 
sustenance to the Crusades animated other movements, 
more enduring in their results, if less romantic in their 
form. In 1198 the throne of St. Peter was filled by 
Innocent III., a young and zealous priest, fired with the 
lofty ambition to make Romanism the dominant creed 
over East and West, and himself the autocrat of a united 
Roman Catholic world. His genius was all but equal to 
this Titanic task, and in a reign of eighteen years Inno- 
cent, favoured by the convulsions and feuds which rent 
the whole of Europe, succeeded in raising the Papacy to a 
pinnacle of power only dreamt of by his predecessors, and 
attained by few of his successors. A worthy spiritual 
descendant of Gregory VII., he made and unmade 
Emperors and Kings at will, visiting the disobedience of 
princes upon whole nations, or compelling them to sub- 
mission by releasing their subjects from their oath of 
allegiance. He exercised an absolute sway over the 
conscience and the mind of contemporary Christendom, 
and his pontificate was distinguished, in Gibbon's scathing 
phrase, by " the two most signal triumphs over sense and 
1 Ibn Verga, Shebet Yehuda (ed. Wiener), p. 50. 


humanity, the establishment of transubstantiation and the 
origin of the Inquisition." It was he, who by a rigorous 
interdict laid upon the Kingdom of France, compelled the 1200 
headstrong Philip Augustus to recall the wife whom he 
had dismissed; who by the ban of excommunication 
forced John, King of England, to lay his crown at the 1208 
feet of his legate, and who by the execution of a like 
sentence against the Emperor Otho, John's nephew, 1211 
had humbled that mighty and haughty monarch to 
the dust. It was under his auspices that the Fifth 
Crusade was undertaken, and it was with his connivance 1203 
that the forces, ostensibly recruited for the deliverance 
of the holy Sepulchre from the infidels, were employed 
to subjugate the Christian Empire of the East, and thus 
to pave the way for the advent of the Turk. 

However, these and many other triumphs notwith- 
standing, Innocent's dream of world-wide • dominion 
could not be fully realised while such a thing as 
individual conscience remained in the world, and 
individual conscience could not be abolished without 
persecution. Innocent was too great a despot to shrink 
from the difficulties of the work; too sincere a Catholic 
to show any pity to unbelief. The thirteenth century 
opened under evil omens for dissenters. Immediately on 
his accession Innocent had demanded the suppression of 
the Albigenses of Southern France, those unfortunate 
forerunners of the Reformation, because they, choosing 
to follow the dictates of their own conscience, refused to 
conform to the practices of the Church and to comply 
with the commands of her clergy. Raymund VI., Count 
of Toulouse, however, declined to consider the massacre 
of his subjects one of his duties as a sovereign, and 1207 
was excommunicated. In the following year the Pope, 
seizing the pretext offered by the murder of his legate, 
proclaimed an unholy war against the heretics. And so 
great was the Pope's power over the superstitious and 
unscrupulous world of mediaeval Europe, that thousands 
volunteered to carry out the Pontiff's atrocious orders. 
Raymund, who alone among the Christian princes had 
ventured to raise his voice in defence of the persecuted, 


had meanwhile been stripped of his dominions, dragged 
naked into the Church, scourged by the Pope's legate, and 
was now forced to lead the crusade against his own 
people. The harmless population was almost extermi- 
nated by the most barbarous means, their heresy was 
all but quenched in blood; and one of the most pros- 
perous and civilised provinces of Europe was laid waste. 
The ferocity of the soldiers was eclipsed by that of the 
monks and priests, great numbers of whom swelled the 
ranks of the butchers. On the 22 nd of July, 1209, 
the city of Beziers was taken by storm. The Abbot 
Arnold, being asked how the heretics were to be dis- 
tinguished from true believers, replied, " Slay all ; God 
will know his own." " We spared," said the same monk 
in his report to the Pope, u no dignity, no sex, no age ; 
nearly twenty thousand human beings have perished by 
the sword. After that great massacre the town was 
plundered and burnt, and the revenge of God seemed to 
rage upon it in a wonderful manner." 

So fared European heretics within the Church. Infidels 
of alien blood could hardly expect better treatment. The 
popular notion that the dispersion and sufferings of the 
Jews were a divine punishment for the crucifixion of 
Christ was raised by Innocent to the dignity of a dogma. 
It followed as a logical corollary that it was the sacred 
duty of Christ's Vicar on earth to make the culprits feel 
the full rigour of the sentence. After the fashion of 
fanatics, Innocent mistook his own intolerance for holy 
enthusiasm, and, while indulging his own hatred, he 
imagined that he was only hating the enemies of Heaven. 
It was also currently believed that the example and the 
teaching of the Jews tended to pervert their Christian 
neighbours, and to encourage protest and heresy. The 
Albigensian sect in France, already mentioned, like the 
Hussite reform movement in Bohemia two centuries later, 
was attributed to Jewish influence. For both these 
reasons, their own infidelity and their tendency to foster 
infidelity in others, the Jews ought to be crushed. 

The times were propitious. In 11 67 the assassination 
of Raymund, Viscount of Beziers, had deprived the Jews 


of their protector. His successor Roger, who favoured 1170 
the Albigensian heretics, had Jewish sheriffs ; but his 
partiality to these two classes of enemies of Catholicism 
had provoked the wrath of the Pope and led to the 
prince's tragic death. At Montpellier William VIII. and 
his sons excluded the Jews from the office of Sheriff. 11 78-1 201 
But these restrictions were not sufficient. Innocent began 
the attack methodically in 1205, when he wrote to Philip 
Augustus, King of France, complaining of the usurious 
extortions of the Jews in that country, of their being 
allowed to employ Christian servants and nurses, and of 
the fact that Christians were not admitted to depose 
against Jews — things which were contrary to the resolu- 
tion of the Third Lateran Council held under Pope 11 79 
Alexander III. Moreover, Innocent complained that the 
Jewish community of Sens had built a new synagogue 
which rose to a greater height than the neighbouring 
Christian church, and disturbed the service in the latter by 
loud and insolent chanting ; that they scoffed at Chris- 
tianity, and that they murdered Christians ; and he ended 
by exhorting Philip Augustus to oppress the enemies of 
Christ. A similar epistle was addressed to Alfonso, King 
of Castile, threatening him with St. Peter's displeasure, 
should he continue to allow the Synagogue to thrive at 
the expense of the Church. Three years later a pastoral 
epistle to the same effect was sent to the Count of Nevers, 
urging him to coerce the Jews and condemn them to 
serfdom, for they, " like the fratricide Cain, are doomed 
to wander about the earth as fugitives and vagabonds, and 
their faces must be covered with insult." The writer 
further pointed out that it is disgraceful for Christian 
princes to receive Jews into their towns and villages, to 
employ them as usurers in order to extort money from 
the Christians, and to allow them to press wine which was 
used in the Lord's Supper. 

All the above exhortations were systematised by the 1209 
Council of Avignon. By the Statutes then passed the 
Jews were officially pronounced as polluted and polluting. 
It was decreed that "Jews and harlots should not dare 
to touch with their hands bread or fruits exposed for 


sale." 1 The old Church law which forbade the Jews to 
employ Christian servants was renewed and enforced. The 
faithful were warned neither to receive services from Jews 
nor to render services to them, but to avoid them as a pest. 
All who had any dealings with Jews who transgressed 
these decrees were threatened with excommunication. 
Raymund of Toulouse, the protector of the Albigensian 
heretics and friend of the Jews, and all the barons of free 
cities, were bound by oath to carry out the decisions of 
the Council. 

Once more oppression from without fanned the longing 
for Redemption in the hearts of the Jews. The yearning 
after Zion, invigorated by Jehuda Halevi's poetry, 
impelled more than three hundred Rabbis of France and 
1 21 1 England to emigrate to the Holy Land, where they 
visited the spots hallowed by the spirits of the past, wept 
over the ruins of their departed glory, and built syna- 
gogues and schools in order to keep alive the memory 
and the hope of a better day. 

Meanwhile the Pope did not allow the iron to cool. In 
12 1 5 a great (Ecumenical Council was convoked in 
Rome, under his presidency, to complete the ruin of the 
Albigenses, to stimulate the Crusades against the Saracens 
of Spain and Palestine, and, generally, to promote the 
kingdom of God on earth. The Jews, knowing from 
experience that any measures taken to that end could not 
fail to redound to their detriment, hastened to send 
deputies to Rome, in order to ward off the blow. But 
their endeavours proved fruitless. Four out of the seventy 
canonical decrees passed by the Council referred to 
them. The King of France, the Duke of Burgundy, and 
all other princes were called upon to lend their help in 
reducing the doomed people in their respective dominions 
to that state of bondage which was ordained for it by the 
divine will, as interpreted by theological bigotry. The 
Pope's order met with general obedience. In most 
European countries the Jews were forbidden to hold any 
public appointment of trust, or to show themselves in the 

1 Statutes of Avignon quoted by Israel Abrahams, Jewish Life in the 
Middle Ages, p. 408. 


streets at Easter. They were obliged to pay tithes to the 
Church that persecuted them, and the head of each Jewish 
family was forced to subscribe an annual sum at the 
Easter festival. They were compelled by heavy fines and 
penalties to wear a yellow badge of distinction, which in 
their case meant a badge of shame, and the Christians 
were exhorted by their pastors not to allow their homes 
or their shops to be defiled by the presence of Heaven's 

However, papal decrees and anathemas notwithstanding, 
self-interest might have prevailed over religious fana- 
ticism, and the sovereigns who had hitherto sold their 
connivance to the Jews might have continued to shield 
them. In fact, the Duke of Toulouse and the barons, 
despite the oath which they had been obliged to take, 
continued to invest the Jews with public dignities, and in 
Spain the Pope's commands were strenuously ignored. 
But there now came into being a power of persecution, 
even more formidable than Papacy itself. The pan- 
Catholic enthusiasm, which had inspired Innocent's anti- 
Jewish policy was bequeathed to two bodies of apostles, 
through whose organised zeal it was destined to spread 
far and wide, and, like a poisonous breath, to blight many 
a noble flower in the bud. The age of stationary and cor- 
pulent monks was succeeded by the age of lean and 
wandering friars. A few years after Innocent's death were 1223 
instituted the Order of Dominic and the Order of 
Francis, the precursors of the stakes and scaffolds of the 
Inquisition. The latter order had been called into exist- 
ence with the special object of stamping out the 
Albigensian heresy. But an essential part of the mission 
of both bodies was to hunt out dissent, to root out 
free-thought, and to realise the bigot's ideal of spiritual 
peace by means of intellectual starvation. Uniformity 
was their idol, and to that idol they were prepared to 
sacrifice the moral sense of mankind and the lives of 
their fellow-creatures. The Jews supplied them with a 
splendid field for the exercise of their missionary ardour : 
numerous, obstinate, rich and unpopular, they offered a 
prey as tempting as it was safe. The friars were in 


some ways an undoubted power for good ; but the 
Jews experienced none of this better side of their 

In 1227 a Council at Narbonne confirmed the canonical 
ordinances against the Jews, and many ancient decrees of 
the Merovingian kings were revived. Not only were the 
Jews forbidden to take interest on money and compelled 
to wear the badge and to pay taxes to the Church, but 
they were again prohibited from stirring abroad during 
Easter. Shortly afterwards two other Councils at Rouen 
1 23 1 and Tours re-enacted and enlarged the anti-Jewish statutes 
of the Council of Rome. 

But the Dominicans were as subtle as they were 
zealous. They felt that the citadel of Judaism which had 
held out for so many centuries, could not be carried by 
storm. They resorted to less crude tactics. With a 
patience, perseverance, and ingenuity worthy of their high 
ambition, they devoted themselves to the study of the 
Hebrew language and literature, their Master Raymund 
de Penaforte prevailing upon the Kings of Aragon and 
Castile to found special colleges for the purpose. The 
Prophets of the Old Testament had already supplied the 
apologists of the Church with proofs of the truth of 
Christianity. 1 The Talmud was now to supply them 
with fresh proofs of the falsity of Judaism. From the 
pages of that marvellous compilation of noble thoughts 
and multifarious absurdity, they culled everything that 
was likely to reflect discredit on the morality or the 
intelligence of their adversaries. In this campaign the 
Dominicans were fortunate enough to enlist the services 
of renegade Jews, who, after the fashion of renegades, 
strove to prove their loyalty to the faith they embraced 
by a bitter persecution of the one they deserted. One of 
these apostates, Nicolas Donin by name, in 1239 su b- 
mitted to Pope Gregory IX. a minute indictment of the 

1 In the first century of our era Aristo of Pella is said to have been 
the author of an attempt to prove from the Prophets that Jesus was the 
Messiah. Justin Martyr followed in his path, and the latter writer's 
arguments subsequently reappear in the works of Tertullian and other 
Fathers. See W. Trollope's edition of S. Justinl Dialogus, p. 4. 


pernicious book, and induced him to issue Bulls to the 
Kings of England, Spain, and France, as well as to the 
bishops in those countries, ordering a general confiscation 
of the Talmud, and a public enquiry into the charges 
brought against its contents. The Pope's instructions, so 
far as we know, appear to have produced no impression 
in the first two kingdoms, but in France there reigned 
Louis IX., known to fame as St. Louis : in mundane 
affairs a brave, high-minded, just and humane prince ; 
but not far in advance of his age in things celestial. In 
fact, he possessed all the prejudices of an ordinary medi- 
aeval knight, and more than the superstition of an 
ordinary mediaeval monk. He was sincerely convinced 
that the road to heaven lay through Jerusalem. Acting 
on this conviction, he led the last two Crusades, and laid 
down his life in the cause of Catholicism ; a sacrifice 
which earned him a place among the saints of the Church. 
Such a prince could not, without flagrant inconsistency, 
ignore the Pontiff's wishes. He, therefore, ordered that 
a careful search for the suspected book should be made 
throughout his dominions, that all copies should be 
seized, and that a public disputation should be held, in 
which four Rabbis were to take up the challenge thrown 
down by Donin. 

The antagonists met in the precincts of the Court, and 
a brilliant assembly of secular and spiritual magnates 
formed the audience. Donin warmly denounced the 
Talmud as a farrago of blasphemy, slander, superstition, 
immorality and folly, and the Rabbis defended it as 
warmly as they dared. The debate, though distinguished 
by all the scurrility and more than all the ferocity of a 
village prize-fight, seems to have been conducted on the 
principle that whichever side had the best of the argument, 
the Christian should win ; and the Court of Inquisitors 
returned a verdict accordingly. The Talmud was found 
guilty of all the charges brought against it and was 
sentenced to the flames. Execution was delayed for two 
years through bribery; but it was carried out in 1242. 
Fourteen — some say four and twenty — cartloads of 
Rabbinical lore and legislation fed the bonfire. The grief 


of the French Jews at the loss of their sacred books 
was bitter, and the most pious amongst them kept the 
anniversary of the cremation as a day of fasting. 1 
1263 Twenty-one years later a similar tourney took place in 
Barcelona by order, and in the presence, of Jayme L, 
King of Aragon. Don Jayme had borrowed from his 
northern neighbours the axiom that the Jews were to be 
treated as royal chattels. Moreover, his conscience was 
in the keeping of Raymund de Pefiaforte, the Master of 
the Dominicans, a great Inquisitor born before his time. 
King Jayme had led an amorous and not immaculate 
youth. He was, therefore, in his old age, peculiarly 
susceptible to his Confessor's admonitions. The sins of 
love should be atoned for by acts of persecution. The 
religious freedom of the Jews should be offered up as 
a sacrifice of expiation. It was the logic and the morality 
of the Middle Ages. 

The outcome of Jayme's remorse was a theological 
contest at the royal court of Barcelona. There again the 
lists were held for Christianity by a Dominican friar of 
Jewish antecedents, while the champion of Judaism was 
Nachmanides, famed in the annals of Israel as the greatest 
philosopher, physician, theologian, and controversialist of 
his age. Pablo Christiani politely endeavoured to prove 
that the prophets of the Jews had predicted the advent 
and recognised the divinity of Jesus. Nachmanides with 
equal politeness denied that they had done anything of 
the kind. After five days' refined recrimination the 
Court unanimously pronounced in favour of Christianity. 
The books of the Jews were expurgated of all " anti- 
Christian " passages, Nachmanides's account of the con- 
troversy was burnt publicly as blasphemous, and the 
author, then in his seventieth year, banished from Spain, 
ended his days in Jerusalem. Pablo, whose ambition was 
kindled by victory, undertook a tour through the Iberian 
Peninsula and Provence, and, armed with a royal edict, 

1 Heine's famous satire " Disputation " well characterises the futility 
of these public controversies ; " der Jude wird verbrannt " was Lessing's 
grim summary in Nathan der Weise. See also Schechter, Studies in 
Judaism, pp. 125 fol. 


compelled the Jews to engage in religious controversies with 
him and to defray the expenses of his missionary journeys. 

Missions to the Jews became the fashion of the day, 
and the kingdoms of the West were overrun by itinerant 
dialecticians seeking whom they might convert. The 
Jews were forced to attend church and to listen to 
sermons against their own religion. Thanks to their long 
training in Rabbinical subtleties, the benighted people 
sometimes proved more than a match for their assailants, 
and, if fair play were not contrary to the laws of ecclesi- 
astical warfare, they might succeed in converting the 
would-be convertors. But, though religious discussion 
was invited, nay, forced by the Church, it was always on 
the clear understanding that the Christians might beat the 
Jews, but that the Jews should under no circumstances be 
allowed to beat the Christians. To prevent any miscon- 
ception on the subject, Thomas Aquinas, justly celebrated 
as one of the least bigoted of theologians, and distin- 
guished among schoolmen for his tolerance of Judaism, 
gravely cautioned his readers to have no intercourse with 
the Jews, unless they felt sure that their faith was proof 
against reason. 

In later years the work of conversion in the various 
countries was entrusted by the Popes to Dominican friars 
and inquisitors, who carried it on with a diligence never 
practised except by men fanatically believing in the truth 
of their doctrines and with a ruthlessness only possible in 
men too firmly persuaded of the holiness of the end to 
be scrupulous about the means. These apostles were 
authorised to reinforce the powers of their eloquence by 
an appeal to the secular arm. Even so modern mission- 
aries in China have been known in time of peril to forget 
that an apostle should be above earthly weapons and 
" to clamour for a gunboat with which to ensure respect 
for the Gospel." 1 

And while disappointed theologians represented the 
Jew's loyalty to his religion as a proof of his anti- 
Christian tendencies, scholars represented his aloofness as 
a proof of his anti-social nature, and they both agreed 
1 Lord Curzon, Problems of the Far East, p. 298. 


in denouncing him as " an enemy of mankind." This 
lesson, to use the words of a distinguished Jewish writer, 
"was dinned into the ears of the masses until the 
calumny became part of the popular creed. The poets 
formulated the idea for the gentry, the friars brought it 
to the folk." 1 

The animosity thus fomented against the Jews found 
frequent opportunities of translating itself into acts of 
horror. In France, after the war declared against the 
unfortunate people by the Church, they lost the royal 
protection which they had enjoyed hitherto, and were 
henceforth exposed not only to the spasmodic fury of 
the populace, but also to systematic persecution on the 
part of bishops, barons and towns. Bishop Odo of 
Paris, in 1197, forbade the Christians to have any 
dealings, social or commercial, with the Jews. The 
Crusaders called to arms by Gregory IX. attacked 
the Jewish communities of Anjou, Poitou, Bordeaux, 
Angouleme, and elsewhere, and on the Jews refusing to 
be baptized, the holy warriors trampled many of them, 

1236 men, women and children, to death under the hoofs of 
their horses, burned their synagogues, and pillaged and 
sacked their private dwellings. St. Louis encouraged 
the conversion o£ the Jews, permitting the children of 
baptized fathers to be torn away from their unregenerate 

1246 mothers. By a decree of the Council of Beziers the 
disabilities of the Jews were once more confirmed, and 
the Christians were now forbidden to call in Jewish 
doctors, thus depriving the Jews of the profession which 
they had hitherto almost monopolised in Europe. A 

1257 few years after Pope Alexander IV., who had just estab- 
lished the Inquisition in France at the request of St. 
Louis, issued another Bull in which the ruler of that 
kingdom and other princes were again exhorted to 
enforce the distinctive garb upon the Jews and to burn 
all copies of the Talmud. To omit minor acts of 
oppression, the fanatical sect of the " Shepherds," fol- 
lowing the example of the Crusaders, massacred the 
Jews on the Garonne in 1320. 

1 Israel Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, p. 407. 


In Germany the sufferings of Israel were equally- 
severe. The Emperor Frederick II., despite his infidelity 121 
and his enmity towards the Papacy, adopted the Pope's 
anti-Jewish decrees. He excluded the Jews from public 
offices, he censured the Archduke of Austria for toler- 
ating and protecting them, he enforced the use of the 
badge in his Italian and Sicilian dominions, and he 
oppressed them with heavy taxes, dwelling with especial 
satisfaction on the dictum that the Jews were the 
Emperor's serfs. In the troublous period which followed 
Frederick's death the Jews were slain and burnt in great 
numbers at Weissenberg, Magdeburg, and Erfurt, while 
other cities year after year witnessed wholesale slaughter, 
and " Jew-roaster " became a coveted title of honour. 
In addition to occasional massacre, from the end of the 
twelfth to the middle of the fifteenth century the German 
Jews underwent eight expulsions and confiscations of 
their communal property: Vienna (1196), Mecklenburg 
(1225), Frankfort (1241), Brandenburg (1243), Nurem- 
berg (1390), Prague (1391), Heidelberg (1391), and 
Ratisbon (1476). 

In Switzerland the persecution commenced about the 
middle of the fourteenth century, and several expulsions 
are recorded in the ensuing century. In Eastern Europe 
the Jews suffered in Russia and Hungary. The semi- 
civilised and semi-Christianized Magyars, who had hitherto 
tolerated the Jews, were incited to acts of oppression by 
the Western friars. Poland and Lithuania were the only 
European countries where the Jews of the later Middle 
Ages found shelter, and consequently both those countries 
received large numbers of fugitives from the Western 
fields of carnage. 

Credulity joined hands with bigotry. No story told 
of the Jews was too extravagant for belief; no charge 
brought against them too trivial for repetition, provided 
it afforded an excuse for persecution. Some of the 
odious crimes attributed by the heathens in the early 
centuries to the Christians, as a justification of their 
suppression, were now revived by the Christians against 
the Jews. The latter were accused of enveigling 


Christian children into their houses and sacrificing them 
for ritual or medicinal purposes, of travestying the sacra- 
ments of the Church, of poisoning wells and of com- 
mitting all kinds of abominations, which plainly rendered 
their utter extermination a public duty. Similar charges, 
curiously enough, are still brought against the Jews by 
the Christians of Eastern Europe, by the Jews them- 
selves against Hebrew converts to Islam in Turkey, and 
by the Chinese against Protestant missionaries — " charges 
of gross personal immorality and of kidnapping and 
mutilation of children, which, however monstrous and 
malevolent, are not the less, but the more serious, 
because they are firmly believed by the ignorant 
audiences to whom they are addressed." l To the 
vulgar all that is strange is sinister. 

The free propagation of these heinous and disgusting 
myths among the vulgar masses of mediaeval Europe led, 
as it had done in ancient times and as it has done more 
recently, to a horrible persecution of those against whom 

1 171 they were levelled. The Jews were ruthlessly burnt by 
order of Duke Theobalt at Blois, were massacred by the 

13 21 populace in Languedoc and Central France, and on the 
plague breaking out in the following year, they were burnt 
en masse — men, women and children. A season of alternate 
persecution and toleration ensued, until they were banished 
from Central France and finally driven out from the rest 
of the country by the insane King Charles VI., at the end 

1 394-5 of the fourteenth century. 

In Germany wherever the dead body of a Christian was 
found, the murder was promptly laid at the door of the 
Jews, who on such occasions were bidden to be baptized 
or die. So firm a hold had the blood-accusation got upon 
the minds of the people that there was no mystery which 
could not be cleared up by a simple reference to the Jews. 
The outbreak of the Black Death in Germany also was 
attributed to Jewish malevolence. It is now held that 
this scourge originated in India and was conveyed to 
Europe by trade routes and armies, or that it arose 
from the insanitary conditions of mediaeval life. But 

1 Lord Curzon, Problems of the Far East, p. 303. 


the mediaeval world was convinced that it could only 
be the work of the Jews. Their comparative immunity 
from the disease, due perhaps to their superior temperance, 
lent colour to the theory; confessions extorted by 
torture dissipated all doubts on the subject. It was 
commonly believed that the Jews of Spain, those 
redoubtable professors of the Black Art, had invented 
this fiendish method for the extermination of Chris- 
tianity ; that they had despatched emissaries with boxes 
of poison concocted of basilisks and lizards, or even 
of Christian hearts, to all the Jewish congregations in 
Europe and had persuaded or compelled them to dis- 
seminate death among the Christians by poisoning the 
wells and springs. The arch-poisoner was even indicated 
by name. The Jews were in consequence subjected to a 
widespread persecution, at the hands of a mob maddened 
by the terrible and mysterious epidemic. Despite the 1348-50 
Emperor's energetic efforts to save his serfs, the more 
disinterested exertions of humane burgomasters, sheriffs, 
and municipal councils, and Pope Clement VI.'s Bull 
in which the absurdity of the poison charge was solemnly 
exposed, the wretched people were slaughtered and burnt 
by thousands in many parts of Germany, and at last 
they were banished from the Empire. Yet their services 
were so valuable that they gradually returned, only to 
submit to new social restrictions and contumelious 
enactments on the part of the Church. 

Similar scenes were performed through the length and 
breadth of Switzerland and Belgium. 

In Poland alone, which had long been a haven of refuge 
to the hunted Jews, these abominable calumnies found a 
very limited market as yet. It was there enacted that a 
charge of ritual murder brought by a Christian against a 
Jew, unless the accuser succeeded in substantiating it, 
should be punished with death. This generous treatment 
of the Polish Jews, it is said, was partly due to King 
Casimir IV. 's love for a Jewish mistress. Through her 
influence the children of Israel obtained many privileges 
which placed them on a footing of social equality with 
the Christians. At a time when they were oppressed, 


reviled and butchered in almost every Western country, 
in Poland their lives and liberties were as safe as those 
of the nobility itself. Whilst the native peasants were 
still treated as serfs, the Jews were allowed the aristocratic 
privilege of wearing rapiers. Any Jew might, by simply 
renouncing his religion, become a nobleman. As stewards 
of the estates belonging to the Polish magnates, the Jews 
possessed even the power of inflicting capital punishment 
on the Christian slaves of the soil : so much so that 
during the terrible pestilence not more than ten thousand 
Jews were massacred in Poland. 



Another cause of the hatred inspired by the mediaeval 
Jew was usury, a term which was then synonymous with 
money-lending generally. 

For an age accustomed to regard lending money at 
interest as a purely economic transaction, the rate of 
interest as an economic phenomenon obeying the law of 
demand and supply, and the whole thing as a question 
of commerce rather than of ethics, it is not easy to under- 
stand the theological wrath vented on money-lenders in 
old times. Yet in the Middle Ages trade in money was 
treated as a heinous sin, and those engaged in this 
occupation, to us perfectly legitimate, as criminals of the 
deepest dye. Dante, in whom <l ten silent centuries found 
a voice," expresses the mediaeval feeling on the subject by 
placing Cahors, a city of Provence, notorious in the 
thirteenth century as a nest of usurers, beside Sodom in 
Hell: <£17 , • • 11 

"E pero lo minor giron suggella, 
Del segno suo e Sodomma e Caorsa." 1 

It was a superstition of very ancient growth, and its 
origin can be traced back to the constitution of primitive 
society. In the youth of the human race, when the 
members of each community looked upon themselves as 
members of one family, it was naturally very bad form 
for those who had more than they needed to refuse a 
share of their superfluity to a brother in want. The 
sentiment, once rooted, continued from generation to 
generation, and survived the tribal system in which it 

1 Inferno, xi. 49-50. 


arose. From a social law it became a religious tenet, and 
inspired legislators lent to it the sanction of their authority. 
It is found incorporated both in the Old Testament and in 
the Koran. Moses said : " Thou shalt not lend upon 
usury to thy brother ; usury of money, usury of victuals, 
usury of anything that is lent upon usury ; " x and, many 
centuries after, the Psalmist sang: "Lord, who shall 
abide in thy tabernacle ? Who shall dwell in thy holy 
hill ? . . . He that putteth not out his money to 
usury." 2 Mohammed, following Moses, emphatically 
declares that "They who devour usury shall not arise 
from the dead, but as he ariseth whom Satan hath infected 
with a touch : this shall happen to them because they say, 
Truly selling is but as usury : and yet God hath permitted 
selling and forbidden usury. He therefore who, when 
there cometh unto him an admonition from his Lord, 
abstaineth from usury for the future, shall have what is 
past forgiven him, and his affair belongeth unto God. 
But whoever return to usury, they shall be the com- 
panions of Hell fire, they shall continue therein for 
ever." 3 

Philosophy in this case failed to rise superior to 
theology. Plato regards usury as a source of distress, 
discontent and unrest, usurers as creating, by their extor- 
tions, a dangerous class of " drones and paupers " in the 
State, 4 and in his laws forbids " lending money at 
interest." 6 Although the Greek for interest is " off- 
spring " (toko?), Aristotle pronounced that money was 
" barren," and therefore to derive profit from lending it 
out was to put it to an unnatural use. 6 The tradition was 
carried on through succeeding ages, and Plutarch in the 
midst of his numerous labours found time to denounce 

The Fathers of the Church adopted a sentiment which 
accorded so well with the communistic ideals of early 
Christianity, and St. Chrysostom anathematizes money- 
lenders as men who " traffic in other people's misfortunes, 

iDeuter. xxiii. 19. 2 Ps. xv. 1, 5. 

3 Koran (Sale's tr.) ch. ii. 4 Rep. 555 E. 

5 Laws, 742 c. 6 Pol. i. 3, 23. 


seeking gain through their adversity : under the pretence 
of compassion they dig a pit for the oppressed." x The 
Mediaeval Church, as was natural, inherited the venerable 
doctrine of the sinfulness of lending money at interest 
and of speculative trade, and prohibited such transactions 
in theory. But in practice the prohibition was found 
impossible; nay, in many cases, injurious. No capitalist 
would part with his money, or tradesman with his goods, 
without profit. In the absence of loans and middlemen 
commerce would come to a standstill, and large numbers 
of people would be doomed to choose between a sinful 
life and virtuous starvation. The dilemma was an 
awkward one, but not too awkward for scholastic subtlety, 
and the sophists of the Church devoted much time and 
ingenuity to hair-breadth distinctions, attempting to 
explain the inexplicable and to reconcile the irreconcilable, 
by arguing that rent for a house or a horse was lawful, 
but interest on money unlawful, and, like their brethren 
of the law, they tried to avoid practical mischief by the 
sacrifice of intellectual sincerity. The scholastic position, 
being absurd, met with general acceptance. 

However, in the earlier Middle Ages there was little 
temptation for transgression, little scope for commercial 
speculation, while, on the other hand, casuistry afforded 
abundant devices for evasion. The Church was, as a rule, 
content to enforce the law on clerics, but towards laymen 
she was more lenient. Nay, she encouraged traders to 
buy and sell goods unaltered, despite St. Chrysostom's 
sentence that such traders are " ejected from the temple 
of God." And yet she refused, as much as Mohammed 
did, to accept the commonsense view that " selling is but 
as usury," and, while sanctioning the one, continued to 
condemn the other. But so long as the Papacy was too 
weak to persecute, the condemnation remained a dead 
letter, the Church being obliged to connive at a sin 
which she was powerless to conquer. 

Meanwhile, as European society developed, money- 
lending went on increasing. And what would now be 
regarded as the inevitable accompaniment of material 
1 Fifth Homily. 


activity was then denounced as a symptom of moral 
degeneracy. At the same time the power of the Church 
grew, and her eagerness to suppress what she considered 
a sin grew with her ability. Under Gregory VII., the 
hurler of thunderbolts, the Papacy entered upon that 
career of political conquest which achieved its highest 
triumphs under Innocent III. Gregory had been on the 
1083 throne for ten years when one of those missiles fell upon 
usurers, a term which, it must be remembered, in that 
age applied to all money-lenders alike. 

The warfare inaugurated by Hildebrand was carried on 
with unabated vigour by his successors. A decree issued 
by the Lateran General Council of 1139 deprived usurers 
of the consolations of the Church, denied them Christian 
burial, and doomed them to infamy in this life and to 
everlasting torment in the next. The religious enthu- 
siasm aroused by the Crusades, and the economic ruin 
which they threatened, accentuated the common prejudice 
against the outlaws of the Church. Many of the holy 
warriors were obliged to resort to the usurer's hoard for 
the expenses of these campaigns, and the Church felt that 
it was her duty to see that her champions were not left 
destitute and homeless. Pope after Pope, throughout the 
twelfth century, from Eugenius III. onwards, absolved 
Crusaders from their financial embarrassments, and Inno- 
cent III. went so far as to ordain that the Jews should 
be compelled to refund to their debtors any interest that 
might have already been paid to them. 

The prejudice was further strengthened and dissemi- 
nated by the religious Orders of St. Francis and St. 
Dominic, which soon attained a degree of official and 
unofficial influence calculated to enforce their precepts. 
Members of both orders compiled moral codes, which 
were accepted throughout Western Christendom as 
manuals of Christian ethics and guides of Christian con- 
duct. One of the principal sins condemned in those 
books was usury, and the doctrine, thundered from the 
pulpit, preached in the market-place, and whispered in 
the confessional, carried with it all the weight which 
attaches to the words of persons invested with the power 


of loosing and binding in this world and in the world to 

And yet, despite pontifical anathemas and public opinion, 
things pursued their natural course, and usurers were to 
be found even among the tenants of ecclesiastical and 
monastic estates, until Gregory X., in 1274, issued a Bull 
forbidding the letting of lands or houses to the accursed 
tribe. But though the pious execrated the money-lender, 
the needy could not dispense with his services. The chief 
effect of the prohibition of money-lending, and of the 
superstitious disrepute in which it was held, was to force 
this important branch of economic life into the hands of 
the least respectable members of the community. Usury 
was by no means eschewed by the Christians, as Dante 
shows. But the masses of mediaeval Europe, especially 
in the north and centre, were too superstitious to brave 
the ban of the Church, too stupid and ignorant and thrift- 
less to succeed in a business requiring dexterity, alertness, 
and economy. Thus trade in money, as most other kinds 
of European trade, fell from the very first into the hands 
of the Jews — the only people who had capital to lend and 
no caste to lose. Moreover, there was little else for the 
Jew to do in feudal Europe. The laws and the prejudices 
which in many countries forbade him to own land or 
to engage in various handicrafts and trades on one hand, 
and his own religious scruples on the other, narrowed 
his range of activity, and the current of energy and 
intelligence, compressed into one channel, ran with pro- 
portionately greater force. The reputation of the Jews 
for usury dates from the sixth century. But money- 
lending really became their characteristic pursuit since the 
commencement of the persecution already narrated. Then 
the Jews, by the periodical enactments of councils and the 
frequent publications of ecclesiastical edicts, were excluded 
from the markets, and thus, being unable to compete with 
the Christian merchants, were driven to deal only in 
second-hand articles, while others, possessed of some 
capital but forbidden to invest it in goods, were com- 
pelled to put it out to interest. 

As has been seen, the money-lending transactions of the 


Jews had long continued to be carried on with the conniv- 
ance of the Church and under the protection of the State, 
many princes being only too glad to avail themselves 
of the Jews' skill in pecuniary dealings for the improve- 
ment of their own finances. Under mediaeval conditions 
of financial administration the Jew was literally indispens- 
able to the State. The sovereigns of Europe, as yet 
unversed in the mysteries of systematic taxation, needed 
a class of men who would for their own sake collect 
money from the king's subjects and keep it, as it were, in 
trust for the king's treasury. At the worst, the Jews in a 
mediaeval country might be described as sponges which 
imbibed the wealth of the nation and then were squeezed 
for the benefit of the crown. At the best, they fulfilled 
the function of the clouds which collect the water in small 
drops and then yield it back to the earth in rich showers, 
the rainfall being only too often accelerated by artificial 
explosives. In either case it was the duty of a Jew to be 

The growing wealth of the Jews must have always 
excited the envy and the cupidity of their neighbours. 
But it was not until the awakening of religious bigotry by 
the Crusades and the Mendicant Orders that the dormant 
animosity declared itself in wholesale persecution. Nor is 
the violence of the popular feeling, apart from religious 
motives, quite inexplicable or inexcusable. The Jews 
from the earliest times evinced a fierce contempt for the 
Gentile. Despite the doctrine of universal love inculcated 
by certain Hebrew teachers, the bulk of the community 
clung to the older lesson. Jewish tolerance of outsiders, 
like Christian tolerance, was the glory and the property 
of the few. A Jehuda Halevi or a Maimonides 
might preach broad humanitarianism, but it would be 
unreasonable to suppose that their preaching was more 
effective on their co-religionists than the similar preaching 
of a Thomas Aquinas or a St. Bernard was on theirs. 
And it is important not to forget that in every-day life it 
is not the minds of the cultured few but the instincts of 
the masses that count. With the ordinary mediaeval 
Jew, as with the ordinary mediaeval Christian, charity 


not only began but ended at home. The tribal spirit 
of their religion made the Jews hard to the non-Jew and 
callous to his needs. Moses had already said : " Thou 
shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother," and Rabbinical 
law enforced the commandment ; but the prohibition was 
accompanied by a significant permission : "Unto a stranger 
thou mayest lend upon usury," an ominous distinction of 
which the Jews took full advantage, though Jewish 
moralists and Rabbis constantly opposed the extent to 
which reliance was placed upon it. 

The racial and religious antagonism, in which the Jew 
found himself engaged from his earliest contact with the 
nations, widened the gulf. The grievous persecution to 
which he found himself periodically exposed since his 
advent in Europe further embittered his soul, and sore 
experience taught him that peace could only be purchased 
by gold. He had nothing but avarice to oppose to the 
fanaticism of those under whom he lived, and he strove to 
raise a wall of gold between himself and tyranny. He 
took shelter behind his shekels, and, naturally, endea- 
voured by all means, fair or foul, to make that shelter 
as effective as he could. Even supposing that the Jew 
omitted no opportunity of fleecing the Gentile, he was 
more than justified in doing so — he was compelled by the 
Gentile's own treatment of him. It was the Gentile who 
taught the Jew the supreme virtue of money as a preserva- 
tive against oppression, exile, and death ; and he had no 
right to complain of the disciple's wonderful quickness in 
learning his lesson and " bettering the instruction." His 
hatred of the Gentile, thus combined with love of gain 
and love of life, rendered him impervious to compassion. 
The Gentile merited little mercy at the hands of the 
Jew, and he got no more than he merited. The ex- 
ploitation of the Gentile, begun as a necessity and 
promoted as a means of self-defence, thus found an 
abiding place among the lower orders of the mediaeval 

Besides, in the Middle Ages borrowing for com- 
mercial purposes was rare. As a rule, a loan was 
resorted to only on an emergency, and the interest was 


determined by the necessity of the borrower. Under the 
circumstances exorbitant rates were unavoidable. The dis- 
couragement of money-lending, coupled with the scarcity 
of capital, by limiting competition, would in any case have 
tended to raise the normal rate of interest to a distressing 
height, 1 in obedience to the law of demand and supply 
which now is one of the commonplaces of political 
economy. The uncertainty of recovery raised it to a 
greater height still. Like the Christian bankers in the 
Turkey of not long ago, the Jewish money-lenders of 
the Middle Ages must have lent their money at con- 
siderable risk, sometimes amounting to certainty of loss. 
The mediaeval baron, far more than the mediaeval 
burgess, was largely beholden to the Jew both in peace 
and in war. The pomp and pride of chivalry could 
not be maintained without money. For the pageant 
of a tournament, as for the more costly splendour of 
a campaign, the usurer's purse was appealed to. But, 
if the baron found himself obliged to coax and flatter the 
Jew and to submit to exorbitant terms when he wanted a 
loan, he revenged himself when he had the Jew in his 
power. Such opportunities were not rare, and then the 
borrower repayed himself with interest. The conditions 
of the transaction were such as to tempt avarice, but not 
to encourage moderation. A loan to a mediaeval pasha 
was a speculation which might result either in wealth or in 
penury and death. 

This a priori reasoning is amply confirmed by history. 
Among the Jews' clients none were more conspicuous 
than the sovereigns of Christendom ; and the devices to 

1 We hear, for example, that early in the thirteenth century interest 
was fixed by law at i z\ per cent, at Verona, while at Modena towards 
the end of the same century it seems to have been as high as 20 per 
cent. The Republic of Genoa, a hundred years later, despite Italy's 
commercial prosperity, paid from 7 to 10 per cent, to her creditors. 
Much more oppressive were the conditions of the money market in 
France and England. Instances occur of 50 per cent., and there is an 
edict of Philip Augustus limiting the Jews in France to 48 per cent. 
At the beginning of the fourteenth century an ordinance of Philip the 
Fair allows 20 per cent, after the first year of a loan, while in England 
under Henry III. there are cases on record of 10 per cent, for two 


which these crowned robbers descended in their attempts 
to reconcile expediency with conscience would be highly 
amusing were they less tragic. King Louis VII. of 1169 
France, though a Crusader, protected the Jews and 
disregarded the decree of the Lateran Council, which 
forbade them to employ Christian servants. His example 
was at first followed by his son Philip Augustus, who, 
however, gradually changed his attitude. Though nomi- 
nally Lord Paramount of France, the French King in 
reality could call nothing but a small tract of the country 
his own; the royal domain being surrounded by the 
territories of the great feudatory Dukes and Counts. 
Philip wished to convert this theoretical suzerainty into 
actual possession, and to this end he needed money. The 
wealth of the Jews suggested to him a short-cut to the 
accomplishment of his desire. Though not the only 
usurers in the kingdom, the Jews were the most un- 
popular. He, therefore, caused a number of them to 
be cast into prison, and held them to ransom. On paying 11S0 
1 500 marks, they were set at liberty. The success of the 
experiment induced Philip to try operations on a larger 
scale. A few months later he conceived the happy 1181 
thought of ridding himself of his sins and of his debts at 
once by cancelling the claims of the Jews, by compelling 
them to give up the pledges held by them, by confiscating 
their real property, and by expelling them from his 
Kingdom. Some years after, in consistency with the 1 198 
principle of expedience, he thought it advisable to mortify 
the Pope and to enrich himself by recalling the exiles, 
and forbidding them to leave his dominions. 

Louis IX., as became a king and a saint of unquestion- 
able respectability, released all his subjects of one-third of 
the money which they owed to the Jews "for the salvation 
of his own soul, and those of his ancestors," and, in 1253, 
he sent from Palestine an order banishing all Jews, except 
those who would take to legitimate commerce and handi- 

Philip the Fair, whose cruel rapacity and vindictiveness 
were exemplified in the ruin of the Knights Templars, 
accompanied as it was by the torture and cremation of 


their persons and the confiscation of their treasures, 
showed the same tyrannical and predatory spirit towards 
1306 the Jews. They had just concluded their severe fast on 
the Day of Lamentation in remembrance of the destruc- 
tion of the Temple, when the King's constables seized 
them, young and old, women and children, and dragged 
them all to prison, where they were told that they should 
quit the country within a month, under penalty of death. 
They were plundered of all their possessions, save the 
clothes which they wore and one day's provisions,, and 
were turned adrift — some hundred thousand souls — 
leaving to the King cartloads of gold, silver, and precious 
stones. A few embraced Christianity, and some who 
ventured to tarry after the prescribed date suffered death ; 
but the majority chose to lose all, and quit the country in 
which their forefathers had lived from time immemorial, 
rather than be false to their faith. Their communal 
buildings and immoveable property were confiscated, and 
Philip the Fair made a present of a synagogue to his 

Most of the exiles settled in the neighbourhood, waiting 
for a favourable opportunity of returning to their devas- 
tated homes. Nor had they to wait long. Financial 
1315 necessity overcame fanaticism, and nine years later Philip's 
successor, Louis X., was glad to have them back and to 
help them in the collection of the moneys due to them, 
on condition that two-thirds of the sums collected should 
be surrendered to the Royal Exchequer. 

In Germany, also, the Emperors time and again per- 
formed their duty to the Church by cancelling their debts 
to the Jews. But it would be a mistake to suppose that 
piety was an indispensable cloak for plunder. A law 
enacted in France condemned Jewish converts to Chris- 
tianity to loss of all their goods for the benefit of the 
King or their Lord Paramount ; for it was felt that con- 
version would exempt the victims from extortion. Thus 
even the interests of religion were at times subordinated 
to rapacity. 



The first mention of Jews on this side of the Channel is 
said to occur in the Church Constitutions of Egbert, 
Archbishop of York, towards the middle of the eighth 
century ; the second in a monastic charter of some 
hundred years later. But they do not seem to have 
crossed over in any considerable force till the Norman 
Conquest. Among the foreigners who followed William 1066 
to his new dominions were many families of French Jews. 
Their ready money and their eagerness to part with it 
rendered them welcome to the king and his barons. The 
former received from them advances, when his feudal dues 
were in arrear; the latter had recourse to the Jew's 
money-bag whenever the expense of military service or 
the extravagance of their life made a loan necessary. To 
men of lower rank also, such as litigants who were obliged 
to follow the King's Court from county to county, or to 
repair to Rome in order to plead their cases before the 
Pope's Curia, the Jew's purse was of constant help. No 
less useful was the Jew to the English tax-payer. In 
those days of picturesque inefficiency taxes were levied 
at irregular intervals and in lump sums. The subject, 
suddenly called upon to pay a large amount at short 
notice, was only too glad to borrow from the Jew. 

However, such intercourse with the Gentiles, high and 
low, notwithstanding, the Jews formed in England, as 
they did on the Continent, a people apart. In each town 
the synagogue formed a centre round which clustered the 
colony. Newcomers gravitated towards the same centre, 
and thus spontaneously grew the Jewries of London, 


Norwich, York, Northampton, and other English cities. 
These Jewish quarters were the King's property and, like 
his forests, they were outside the jurisdiction of the 
common law. But, while their judicial and financial 
interests were under royal control, the Jews were allowed 
full liberty of worship, were permitted to build syna- 
gogues and to conduct their religious affairs under their 
own Chief Rabbi, thus constituting a self-governing and 
self-centred community. The literary activity of the 
Jews during their sojourn in England reveals a marvellous 
detachment from their environment. Commentaries and 
super-commentaries on the Old Testament and the 
Talmud, learned treatises on minute points of ritual and 
ceremonial, discussions on the benedictory formulas that 
are appropriate to each occasion of life : on rising in the 
morning, or lying down at night, on eating, washing, on 
being married, on hearing thunder, and a myriad other 
profound trivialities — such was the stuff that their studies 
were made of. And whilst Norman and Saxon, Celt 
and Dane were being welded into one English people, 
Israel remained a race distinct in face, speech, domestic 
economy, deportment, diet of the body and diet of the 

The singularity of the Jews' habits, their usury, the 
wealth accumulated thereby, and the ostentatious display 
of it, must from the very first have evoked among the 
English feelings of distrust and jealousy, dislike and con- 
tempt, such as at a later period inspired a genial poet to 
pronounce that " Hell is without light where they sing 
lamentations." But during the first century of their 
residence in the country they seem to have suffered from 
no active manifestation of these feelings. William the 
Conqueror favoured them, and William Rufus actually 
1087-1100 farmed out vacant bishoprics to them. The latter prince's 
easy tolerance of Judaism is denounced by the monkish 
historians in many quaint tales, which, though meant to 
throw light on William's irreligion, also serve to illustrate 
his sense of humour. At one time a Jew, whose son had 
been lured to Christianity, went to the King, and, by 
means of prayers and a present of sixty marks, prevailed 


upon him to lend his assistance in recovering the strayed 
lamb. The King did his utmost to carry out his part of 
the contract, but, on finding the youth obdurate, told the 
father that inasmuch as he had failed he was not entitled 
to the present; but inasmuch as he had conscientiously 
striven to succeed, he deserved to be paid for his trouble, 
and he kept thirty marks. On another occasion William 
summoned some Christian theologians and some learned 
Rabbis to his presence, and, telling them that he was 
anxious to embrace that doctrine which upon comparison 
should be found to have truth on its side, he set them 
disputing for his own entertainment. 

The King's good-natured attitude was even shared by 
his antagonists. St. Anselm, the Norman Archbishop of 
Canterbury, for example, and other eminent ecclesiastics, 
in their efforts to convert the Jews, did not overstep the 
limits of argument ; at times of peril churches and 
monasteries afforded an asylum to the effects and to the 
families of Jews; no attempt was made to poison the 
relations, such as they were, between the two elements ; 
and there are instances of Jews helping the monks with 
prayers and otherwise in their efforts to resist the en- 
croachments of Archbishops, and even of Jews drinking 
with Gentiles. 

Meanwhile, the Continent was undergoing the spiritual 
travail which resulted in the tremendous explosion of the 
Crusades. England, as a member of the Catholic family 
of nations, and in many ways under Continental influence, 
could not long remain deaf to the cry which rang through- 
out Christendom. The unsettled condition of the country 
under the first three Norman kings, and the convulsions 
to which it fell a prey under the fourth, had hitherto 
prevented England from responding to the Pope's call 
in an adequate manner; but the religious fever was in- 
fectious, and on reaching England it translated uny vague 
sentimental dislike of the Jews that may have existed into 
an open and determined hostility, which led to deeds of 
violence such as had already disgraced the Continent. 

The atrocious charge of sacrificing Christian children 
and using their blood in their mysterious Passover rites, 


or in medicine, is now for the first time heard under the 
definite form which has since become familiar ; and the 
English town of Norwich seems to be entitled to the 
unenviable credit of its birth. The populace of that city- 
was one day, in 1 144, horrified by the rumour that the 
Jews had kidnapped and murdered a boy, named William, 
for the purpose of obtaining his blood. A renegade Jew 
brought forth the libel, and the local bishop adopted it. 
The sheriff considered the evidence insufficient, and 
refused to sanction a trial before the Bishop's Court. 
But the people, encouraged by the clergy, took the law 
into their own hands, and, despite the sheriffs efforts to 
protect the Jews, many of the latter were slaughtered, 
while the rest fled in fear for their lives. 

Within the next thirty-four years the same blood- 
accusation recurred at Gloucester and Bury St. Edmunds, 
1155-1 189 and led to a similar catastrophe. 1 But during the reign of 
Henry II. anti-Jewish feeling, with the last exception, was 
firmly checked. That King, renowned in history as " the 
greatest prince of his time for wisdom, virtue, and 
abilities," followed in the footsteps of William the 
Conqueror and William Rufus, and, in the opinion of 
the monastic chroniclers, sullied his otherwise stainless 
character by the favour which he showed to the Jews. 
He delivered them from the jurisdiction of the ecclesi- 
astical courts and granted to them the privilege of 
settling their disputes in their own Beth Din, or Religious 
Tribunal, and of burying their dead outside the cities in 

1 The notorious legend of Hugh of Lincoln is placed by the chronicler, 
Matthew Paris, in the year 1255. The prolific nature of monkish 
imagination on this subject is shown by the subjoined facts due to 
Tyrwhitt's researches : " In the first four months of the Acta Sanctorum 
by Bollandus, I find the following names of children canonized, as 
having been murdered by Jews : 

XXV. Mart. Willielmus Norvicensis, 11 44; 

Richardus, Parisiis, 1 1 79 ; 
XVII. Apr. Rudolphus, Bernae, 1287; 

Wernerus, Wesaliae, anno eodem ; 

Albertus, Poloniae, 1598. 

I suppose the remaining eight months would furnish at least as 
many more." Quoted by Dr. W. W. Skeat, Chaucer, Intr., p. xxiii. 


which they dwelt. Henceforward the Jews were to be 
regarded as the King's own chattels, and to enjoy the 
protection of the King's officers, as they did in Germany, 
and on the same terms. 

Royal favours, of course, are never granted without an 
equivalent. The wealth of the Jews, being moveable and 
concentrated in few hands, was much more accessible to 
the King than that of his Christian subjects. They were, 
accordingly, made to pay more than the latter. When, 
in 1 1 87, Henry levied a contribution, he received from 
the Jews alone nearly one-half of the whole amount, they 
contributing one-fourth of their property (,£60,000), 
while the Christians one-tenth (,£70,000). But, though 
the King's Exchequer was the richer for the King's 
clemency, the Jews enjoyed the right to live and grow 
wealthy. England was not a loser by this toleration of 
the children of Israel. Their ready money, despite the 
high rates of interest at which it was lent, supplied a 
powerful stimulus to industry and to architecture. 
Many a castle and cathedral owed their existence to 
Jewish capital. And not only the means of erection 
but also models for imitation were due to the Jews, 
who by their example taught the rude English burgesses 
the superiority of a stone house over a mud hovel, as 
is shown by the buildings at Bury St. Edmunds and 
Lincoln which still bear the name of "Jews' houses." 
Indeed, in this and subsequent reigns we hear marvellous 
tales of Jewish opulence and magnificence, such as that of 
Abraham fil Rabbi, Jurnet of Norwich, and Aaron of 
Lincoln, and even of unwelcomed proselytes to Judaism. 
Both these blessings, however, material prosperity and 
religious popularity, proved curses in disguise to their 
possessors. The riches of the Jew could not but rouse 
the cupidity of mediaeval barons, and his dissent the 
bigotry of mediaeval priests. Moreover, it would have 
been contrary to all the laws of probability and human 
nature had the Jews been left unmolested much longer 
in a land where the crusading spirit was abroad, where the 
popular hatred of the Jew had been recently fanned by 
abominable calumny and by royal favour, and where the 


civil authority was so frequently set at naught by feudal 
lawlessness. Last and most ominous sign, the Jews by 
an Act, passed in 1181, were forbidden to keep or bear 

Where prejudice is, pretexts for persecution are not 
wanting. A favourable opportunity for the expression of 
public feeling was offered by the coronation of Richard 
) Coeur de Lion. Richard was the first English King who 
took up the cross against the infidels, and his reign was 
appropriately inaugurated by an anti-Jewish demonstration. 
The Jews were by royal edict forbidden to show their 
unchristian countenances in the Abbey during the cere- 
mony. But some of them, armed with rich gifts from 
their people to the King, presumed to take up their 
station outside the Church. The street was thronged 
with the servants and retainers of the barons and knights 
who assisted at the coronation, as well as by a miscellaneous 
mob, drawn thither by curiosity. The foreign faces of the 
Jews were soon detected by the fanatical crowd, in holiday 
mood, and were at once made the marks of insult and 
riot. The wretches tried to escape ; the populace pursued 
them ; and one at least was obliged to save his life by 
baptism. Later in the day a rumour got abroad that the 
King had ordered a general slaughter of the Jews. The 
alleged command found many persons only too ready to 
carry it out. All the Jews that happened to be out of 
doors were cut to pieces, without remorse and without 
resistance, while those who had wisely remained at home 
were attacked by the zealous and greedy crowd, who 
broke into their houses, murdered the inmates, plundered 
their effects, and ended by setting fire to the Jewry. 
The riotous and avaricious instincts of the populace once 
roused, the havoc spread far and wide, and the city of 
London soon became a scene of pillage and rapine, in 
which no invidious distinction was made between Christian 
and infidel, but all were impartially robbed who were 
worth robbing. The King's endeavours to bring these 
atrocities home to the guilty resulted in the discovery that 
the punishment would involve so great a number that, 
after having hanged three offenders, he was forced to 


desist. The very magnitude of the crime saved its 

Nor did the excitement terminate in the capital. The 
good news of the massacre of the Jews travelled to the 
provinces, and everywhere found the field ready to 
receive the seed. All the principal towns in England 
swarmed at that time with Crusaders preparing for their 
expedition. The sight of these warriors stirred the 
martial and religious spirit of the people, and, when they 
started the campaign against the Crescent by falling upon 
the native Jews, they found numerous and enthusiastic 
auxiliaries among the burgesses, the priests, and the 
impoverished gentlemen. Indeed, how could any one 
refuse to help in the destruction of God's enemies, who 
in many cases also happened to be the assailants' 
creditors ? In York the ' immediate excuse for an attack 
was a certain Joceus, who, being forcibly baptized in 
London on the day of Richard's coronation, on his return 
home renounced the creed thrust upon him and thereby 
earned the odium of apostasy. Accompanied by a 
number of his co-religionists the hunted man sought 
refuge with all his treasures in the castle. The mob, 
incited by a fanatical Canon and led by the castellan, laid 
siege to the castle. The Jews had recourse to desperate 
measures. Some of them, acting on the heroic advice of 
a Rabbi, killed their own wives and children, flung the 
corpses from the battlements upon the besieging crowd, 
and then prepared to consign the castle and themselves 
to the flames. The others capitulated, and were massacred 
by the mob, at the instigation of a gentleman deeply 
indebted to them. Then the crowd, headed by the 
landed proprietors of the neighbourhood, all of whom 
owed money to the Jews, hastened to the Cathedral, 
where the bonds were kept, and burnt them on the altar, 
under the benedictions of the priests. 

Like deeds were perpetrated at Norwich, Bury St. 
Edmunds, Lynn, Lincoln, Colchester, and Stamford, and 
in all these places, as in London, the King's officers found 
themselves powerless to prevent or punish. Richard, 
however, could not afford to have his Jews butchered or 


driven out of the country. He, therefore, issued a 
charter, confirming to the wealthiest among them the 
privileges which they had enjoyed under his predecessors : 
the privilege of owning land, of bequeathing and inherit- 
ing money-debts, of moving to and fro in the country 
without let or hindrance, and of exemption from all tolls. 
In return for his protection, the King claimed a closer 
supervision of their property and profits. His Treasury 
was to know how much they had, and how much they 
made. Staffs of Jewish and Christian clerks, appointed 
in various parts of the country, were to witness their 
deeds, enter them into a special register, and see that 
three copies were made of every bond : one to be placed 
into the hands of a magistrate, another into those of some 
respectable private citizen, and a third to be left with the 
Jew. Debts due to the Jews were really due to the 
King, and might not be compounded or cancelled without 
his consent. Disputes between Jews were to be settled 
at the royal Courts, and, in a word, a severe and vigilant 
eye was to be kept on the Israelites and their money- 
1199-1216 John, Richard's miserable successor, whose reign 
brought nothing but ruin to himself and shame on his 
country, found it expedient to continue towards the Jews 
the lucrative generosity initiated by better men. The 
oppression of the Jews was a monopoly of the crown, and 
John made it quite plain that he would not tolerate any 
rivals. He invested Jacob of London with the dignity of 
Chief Rabbi over all the Jewish congregations throughout 
England and styled him his iC dear, dear friend," warning 
his subjects that any insult or injury offered to him would 
be regarded by the King as an insult to himself. He 
extended to the whole colony the favours and immunities 
granted to a privileged few by Richard, and, like him, 
accompanied this act of grace with an even more rigorous 
control of their affairs. The Jews had to pay dearly even 
for this limited and precarious protection. The sole 
difference between the treatment of them on the part of 
the King and that meted out to them by his subjects was 
that the latter despoiled them spasmodically, the former 


systematically. It was no longer a question of occasional 
contributions, such as the ^60,000 wrung from them 
by Henry II., and like impositions levied to defray the 
expenses of Richard's Crusade, but a steady and unsparing 
bleeding: tallages, inheritance duties and a heavy per- 
centage on all loan transactions, in addition to confisca- 
tions and general fines, or fines for breaches of the law, 
with which the King would now and again diversify the 
monotony of normal brigandage. The procedure was 
perfectly immoral and yet perfectly legal. The King's 
treasury was replenished out of the pockets of men who 
were as absolutely his as his own palaces, and whom he 
could sell or mortgage as any other property, according to 
his convenience. Even the King's commissioners — Jews 
deputed to collect the tallage — had power to seize the 
wives and children of their own co-religionists. It is 
computed that at this period the Jews contributed about 
one-twelfth of the whole royal revenue. 

But John's cruelty was boundless as his meanness. 
Not content with ordinary measures of extortion, he 
suddenly ordered all the Jews — men, women and children 12 10 
— to be imprisoned and forced to yield all they possessed. 
Thus by one fell swoop were snatched from them the 
fruits of a life's laborious accumulation, and many were 
brought to the verge of starvation. Men and women, 
until yesterday opulent, were seen begging from door to 
door in the day time, and at night prowling about the 
purlieus of the city like homeless and hungry curs. 
Those who were suspected of being the owners of hidden 
treasure were tortured until they confessed, and, in the 
case of a Jew of Bristol, at least, a tooth a day was found 
an efficient test of a Jew's squeezability. Grinder after 
grinder was drawn from his jaw in horrible agony, till the 
victim, after having lost several teeth, paid the 10,000 
marks demanded of him. By such a fiscal policy the 
King's ■protegts were made to feel the full weight of royal 
favour. But even this condition of serfdom and occa- 
sional torture was preferable to the lot that was in store 
for them in the future. John, whatever his own standard 
of humanity might have been, when the citizens of 


London threatened an attack upon the Jews, stood boldly 
forth in their defence, and told the Mayor and burgesses 
that he held them responsible for the safety of the Jews, 
vowing a bloody vengeance if any harm befell them. 

1216-1272 Henry III. was as exacting as his predecessors; but he 
lacked the firmness by which some of them had prevented 
their subjects from trespassing on the royal preserves. 
Under his weak rule the nobles and the towns grew in 
importance. The decline of the King's prerogative and 
the increased power of the subjects were alike fatal to the 
Jews. The burgesses hated them as the instruments of 
royal avarice and as interlopers in a community for the 
freedom of which they themselves had paid a heavy price 
to King or lord paramount. Their exemption from 
municipal burdens, and their independence of municipal 
authority irritated their fellow-townsmen. The constant 
interference of the King's officers on behalf of the King's 
serfs was resented as a violation of privilege. These 
grievances, reasonable enough, were intensified by religious 
rancour, and by that antipathy which the English, perhaps 
more than any other, bourgeoisie has always displayed 
towards foreigners. The Jew's isolation also added to his 
unpopularity, and all these causes, acting upon the minds 
of the townspeople, gave rise to frequent acts of aggres- 
sion. The Kings, as has been seen, had always found it 
hard to curb popular license, each attempt at repression, 
each measure of precaution, only serving to embitter the 
ill-feeling towards those on whose behalf these efforts 
were made. Under Henry III. the wrath of the bur- 
gesses broke out again and again in many towns, notably 

1234 at Norwich, where the Jews' quarter was sacked and 

burnt, and the inhabitants narrowly escaped massacre, and 
at Oxford, where town and gown joined in the work of 
devastation and pillage. 

The animosity of the towns was shared by the smaller 
nobility who lay under heavy obligations to the Jewish 
money-lenders, but, unlike their betters, had not the 
means of making their tenants pay their debts for them. 
The great barons played towards the Jews within their 
domains the same rdle as the King, only on a smaller 


scale. They lent them their protection, were sleeping 
partners in their usurious transactions, and upon occasion 
made them disgorge their ill-gotten gains. This role was 
beyond the ability of the smaller nobility. So far from 
sharing in the spoils of usury, they themselves were 
among its worst victims. The King's Continental expedi- 
tions forced them to mortgage their estates to the Jews, 
from whose clutches none but the lands of tenants on the 
royal demesne were safe ; and, if the holders of the pledge 
were afraid to enforce their claims in person, they passed 
the bonds to the more powerful nobles, who seized the 
land of their inferiors and sometimes refused to part with 
it, even when the debtors offered to redeem it by paying 
off the debt with interest. 

In addition to these private motives, there were political 
reasons to foment the anti-Jewish movement; common 
interests which bound all the hostile elements together. 
It was felt by both Lords and Commons that, but for the 
Jews' ready money, Henry would not have been able to 
carry on his unpopular wars abroad, or his anti-constitu- 
tional policy at home, and to indulge that preference for 
Provencal and other foreign favourites which his English 
subjects resented so strongly. That the source of the 
King's power to defy public opinion was rightly guessed 
is shown by the enormous sums which Henry extorted 
from the Jews at various times; In 1230, under the 
pretext that they clipped and adulterated the coin of the 
realm — a very common offence in those days 1 — they 
were made to pay into the Royal Exchequer one-third of 
their moveable property. The operation was repeated in 
1239. ^ n 12 4 x > 20,000 marks were exacted from them; 
and two years after 60,000 marks — a sum equal to the 
whole yearly revenue of the crown — above 4000 marks 
being wrung from Aaron of York alone. In 1250 new 
oppression, on a charge of forgery, elicited 30,000 marks 

1 A contemporary historian pathetically states that in 1 248 " no 
foreigner, let alone an Englishman, could look at an English coin with 
dry eyes and unbroken heart." Henry III. issued a new coin ; but it 
was not long ere it reached the condition of the older one. In England 
the penalty for the crime was loss of life or limbs. 


from the same wretched millionaire, and from 1252 to 
1255 Henry robbed the Jews three times by such exquisite 
cruelty that the whole race, in despair, twice begged for 
permission to depart from England. But the King 
replied, " How can I remedy the oppressions you complain 
of ? I am myself a beggar. I am spoiled, I am stripped 
of all my revenues " — referring to the attempt made by 
the Council to secure constitutional Government by the 
refusal of supplies — " I must have money from any hand, 
from any quarter, or by any means." He then delivered 
them over to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, that he might 
persuade them to stay, or, in the words of Matthew Paris, 
" that those whom the one brother had flayed, the other 
might embowel." The same witty chronicler informs us 
that these spoliations excited no pity for the victims 
in Henry's Christian subjects, "because it is proved 
and is manifest, that they are continually convicted of 
forging charters, seals and coins," and elsewhere he 
describes the Jews as " a sign for the nations, like Cain 
the accursed." 

The burgesses and the barons in their anti-Jewish 
campaign found powerful allies among the high digni- 
taries of the Church, who had a two-fold set of grievances 
against Israel : practical grievances, and grievances 
begotten of religious bigotry. Pope Innocent III., in 
pursuance of his aggressive autocratism, had claimed 
the right of filling vacant benefices all over the Catholic 
world. In England the election to the see of Canterbury 
gave rise to a long struggle between Pope and King, 
which ended in John's shameful and abject surrender. 
Cardinal Langton, Innocent's nominee and instrument, on 
1207 being raised to the primacy, made common cause with 
John's disaffected nobility, and the two acting in concert 
frustrated the unpopular prince's projected invasion of 
France in 1213. The same Archbishop passed at his 
provincial synod a decree, forcing the Jews to wear 
the badge and forbidding them to keep Christian 
servants or to build new synagogues. He also issued 
orders to his flock, threatening to excommunicate any- 
one who should have relations with the enemies of Christ, 


or sell to them the necessaries of life. The Jews were to 
be treated as a race outside the pale of humanity. 
Langton's example was followed by the Bishops, many 
of whom exerted themselves both officially and unoffi- 
cially to check intercourse between Jews and Christians. 
The crusade was carried on after Langton's death. At 
one time the Archbishop of Canterbury demands the 
demolition of the Jewish synagogues, at another he calls 
upon the temporal power to prevent Jewish converts from 
relapsing into infidelity ; on a third occasion he writes to 
the Queen remonstrating with her on her business trans- 
actions with the Jews, and threatening the royal lady with 
everlasting damnation. Similarly, time and again bishops 
hold the thunderbolt of excommunication over the heads 
of all true believers who should assist at a Jewish 
wedding, or accept Jewish hospitality. 

These attacks by the Church were prejudicial to the 
King's pecuniary interests, and during Henry III.'s 
minority met with vigorous opposition on the part of 
his guardians. When the young King assumed the 
responsibilities of Government, he found himself placed 
in a difficult position : his interests compelled him to 
protect the Jews, while his loyalty to the Church forbade 
him to ignore the behests of her ministers. He com- 
promised by sanctioning the use of the badge, and by 1222 
building a house for the reception of Jewish converts 1233 
{Domus Conversorum) on one hand, while, on the other, 
he shielded, to the best of his ability, the hunted 
people from the effects of ecclesiastical and popular 

The war declared by the Papacy against the Jews on 
religious principle was continued on grounds of practical 
necessity. Owing to the enormous expenditure of 
money, incurred partly by the architectural extrava- 
gance of the age, partly by an almost equally extravagant 
hospitality ; partly by the exactions of Kings and Popes, 
and partly by bad management, the estates of the Church 
in England had begun to be encumbered with debt in the 
twelfth century, and loans were frequently contracted at 
ruinous interest. 


A typical case has been preserved for us in the con- 
temporary chronicle of Jocelin of Brakelond, a Norman- 
English monk of Bury St. Edmunds. In his crabbed 
dog-Latin, the good brother tells the story of his monas- 
tery's distress : how under old Abbot Hugo's feeble 
rule the finances became entangled, how deficit followed 
in the footsteps of deficit, and debt was added to debt, 
until there was no ready money left to keep the rain out 
of the house. William the sacristan was ordered by the 
old Abbot to repair a room which had fallen into ruins ; 
but as the order was not accompanied by the means of 
carrying it out. Brother William would fain go to Bene- 
dict the Jew for a loan of forty marks. The room was 
repaired, the rain was kept out, but the creditor clamoured 
for his money. In the absence of cash, the original loan 
grew rapidly at compound interest, and the forty marks 
were swelled to a hundred pounds. Then the Jew came 
to the Abbot with his bills and demanded to be repaid ; 
not only these hundred pounds, but also another hundred 
pounds, which the Abbot owed him on his private account. 
Old Hugo, at his wits' end, tries to silence the Jew by 
granting him a bond for four hundred pounds to be paid 
at the end of four years. The Jew goes away not dis- 
pleased, only to reappear at the expiration of the term. 
On his second visit he, of course, found the Abbot as 
penniless as on the first, and extracted from him a bond for 
eight hundred and eighty pounds, payable in eleven years 
by annual instalments of eighty pounds. Furthermore, 
he now produced other claims, sundry sums lent fourteen 
years before, so that the whole debt amounted to twelve 
hundred pounds, besides interest. The matter was left 
pending until old Hugo was called to a world where 
there is neither borrowing nor lending at compound 
interest; but only paying just debts. 

Old Abbot Hugo is dead, and young Abbot Samson 
has succeeded to his honours and to his deficits. Samson's 
first anxiety was to free the house from the claws of the 
insatiable Benedict and other Hebrew and Christian 
harpies, and he did it in a manner characteristic of the 
age. In some four years he paid off the debts of the 


convent ; but at the same time he obtained from the 
King permission to revenge himself on the Jews. The 
royal abettor of what followed was oblivious of the 
fact that he was himself more than an accomplice in 
the usurer's exactions. Huge sums were at that very 
moment being extorted for royal purposes from the 
Jewish communities which were in as constant a condition 
of indebtedness to the Crown as others were to them. 
Nevertheless, the Jews were driven out of the Liberties 
of Bury St. Edmunds by men-at-arms, and forbidden 
to return thither under severe penalties ; while sentence 
of excommunication was pronounced against any one 
who should be found sheltering them. Such was the 
condition of an English monastery towards the end of 
the twelfth century. 

Things went from bad to worse, until, in the thirteenth 
century, we are told, " there was scarcely anyone in 
England, especially a bishop, who was not caught in the 
meshes of the usurers." We hear of archiepiscopal build- 
ings and priories falling into decay for want of funds, and 
of churches that could not afford clergymen ; of a 
bishop seeking the intervention of the King in order to 
obtain respite of his debts to the Jews, and of a prior 
asking for permission to let one of his churches, as a 
common building, for five years, in order to pay off part 
of the debt ; of another bishop pledging the plate of his 
cathedral, and of an abbot pledging the bones of the 
patron saint of his Abbey ; and we even read of an arch- 
bishop carrying his zeal for retrenchment to the cruel 
length of imposing a limit to the number of dishes with 
which the good Abbot of Glastonbury might be served 
in his private room. 

At the same time the ancient superstition regarding 
usury had been invigorated in England, as on the Conti- 
nent, by the diligent preaching of Franciscan and 
Dominican friars, no less than by the economic distress 
of debtors. It is true that the practice was not confined 
to the Jews. Besides English usurers, the Italian bankers 
of Milan, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Rome, and other cities, 
had stretched their tentacles over Europe. In France 


their position was confirmed by a diplomatic agreement 
with Philip III. In England Italian usurers scoured the 
country collecting taxes for the Pope and lending money 
on their own account at exorbitant interest. As the 
Jews lent under royal so did these Lombards lend under 
papal patronage. The extortions of the former were 
not amenable to any tribunal ; the latter were in the habit 
of, in the words of the chronicler, ' £ cloaking their usury 
under the show of trade," and thus carried on their busi- 
ness under forms not forbidden by Canon law — even 
supposing that the ecclesiastical courts would have cared 
or dared to condemn the Pope's agents. To the Italian 
usurers the great barons extended the same protection as 
to the Jews, and for similar reasons ; but the smaller 
nobility and gentry, the clergy, and the lower orders of 
the laity hated them intensely. One of these usurers, 
brother of the Pope's own Legate, was murdered at 
Oxford, while in London Bishop Roger pronounced a 
solemn anathema against the whole class. Henry III. 
was, after all, a Catholic and a King. The sufferings of 
his subjects moved him to banish the Cahorsines from his 
kingdom, and, were it not for his chronic impecuniosity, 
he might have adopted similar measures against the Jews. 
As it was, in spite of his religious scruples, he could 
ill afford to lose the rich income which he still derived 
from them. 

While the clamour against the Jewish usurers was 
gathering force from bigotry, penury, and policy, the Jews 
were fast losing the means which had hitherto enabled 
them to procure an inadequate protection at the hands of 
the King and his great barons. Early in the thirteenth 
century the merchants of Lombardy and Southern 
France, as has been shown, began to compete with the 
Jewish money-lenders. But the loss of the monopoly 
which the Jews had long enjoyed was, in England, 
257-1267 followed by greater losses still. During the Civil Wars 
the ranks of the malcontents were filled with all sorts of 
ruffians, some driven to rebellion by discontent, others 
drawn to it by the hope of booty ; and it was the policy 
of the rebel barons to let all these disorderly elements 


loose upon the King's friends and supporters. The royal 
demesnes were ruthlessly ravaged, and then the fury of 
the revolutionists, who numbered amongst their allies 
both the lay and the clerical mobs, was directed against 
the King's proteges. Every success of the popular party 
over the King was duly celebrated by a slaughter of his 
Jewish serfs and destruction of their quarters. The 
appetite for plunder and havoc was further stimulated 
by superstition, and at Easter, 1263, the Jews were 
stripped and butchered in the City of London. This 
was the prologue to a long tragedy that continued 
throughout that troublous period. The spoliation of 
the London Jews was repeated, and the Jewries of Canter- 
bury, Northampton, Winchester, Worcester, Lincoln, and 
Cambridge were attacked, looted, and destroyed. Many 
of the unfortunate race were massacred, while some saved 
themselves by baptism and others by exorbitant ransom. 
Deeds and bonds were burnt, and thus the Jews were 
deprived of the one bulwark that had stood between them 
and annihilation ; so much so, that in the last year of 
Henry III.'s reign their contribution to the revenue of 
the crown fell from £5000 to 2000 marks. 

Henry III. died in 1272, and Edward I. was pro- 
claimed King. Edward as heir-apparent had distinguished 
himself by his piety, no less than by his valour and public 
spirit, and at the time of his accession he was actually 
righting the infidels in the Holy Land. His loyalty to 
the Church prejudiced him against the Jews both as 
" enemies of Christ " and as usurers. His scrupulous 
regard for the interests of his subjects was calculated to 
deepen the prejudice. Edward's political ideal was a 
harmonious co-operation and contribution of all classes to 
the welfare of the State. The Jewry, as constituted 
under his predecessors, formed an anomaly and a scandal. 
Measures of restriction had already been taken against 
the Jews, and supplied a precedent for further proceedings 
in the same direction. One of these measures was the 
statute of 1270, which forbade the Jews to acquire houses 
in London in addition to those which they already 
possessed, to enjoy a freehold howsoever held, to receive 


rent-charges as security, and obliged them to return to 
the Christian debtors, or to other Christians, the lands 
which they had already seized, on repayment of the 
principal without interest. A petition, preferred by the 
victims of this Act, to be allowed the full privileges which 
accompanied the tenure of land under the feudal system 
— namely, the guardianship of minors, the right to give 
wards in marriage, and the presentation to livings — had 
elicited an indignant protest from the Bishops, who 
expressed their outraged feelings in language that was 
wanting neither in clearness nor in vigour. The "per- 
fidious Jews " were reminded that their residence in 
England was entirely due to the King's grace — a senti- 
ment with which Prince Edward had fully concurred. On 

1274 n ' s return from Palestine, he resumed the work of admini- 
strative reform which he had commenced as heir-apparent. 
Despite the statute of 1270, he found the Jews still 
absorbed in the one occupation which they had practised 
for ages under the pressure of necessity and with the 
sanction of custom and royal patronage. The religious 
sensitiveness of a pilgrim fresh from the Holy Land, 
acting on the political anxiety of a statesman honestly 
desirous to do his duty by his subjects, compelled him 
to new measures of restriction. Moreover, the reasons 
of self-interest which had influenced his predecessors had 
lost much of their force. John's and Henry III .'s 
merciless rapacity had sapped the foundations of Jewish 
prosperity ; the barons' even more merciless cruelty had 
accomplished their ruin ; and while the fortunes of the 
Jews waned, those of their Italian rivals waxed; so the 
Jews, an unholy and unpopular class at the best of times, 
had now also become an unnecessary one. About the 
same time the Church renewed the campaign against 
usurers. Pope Gregory X., by a decree passed at the 

1274 Council of Lyons, requested the princes of Christendom 
to double their efforts to suppress the accursed trade. 
Edward hastened to obey the orders of the Church. The 
transactions of the Florentine bankers in England were 
subjected to enquiry and restriction by his order, and 
then he proceeded against the Jews. 


There were two ways open to him : either to withdraw 
his countenance from the Jewish money-lenders, or to 
compel them to give up the sinful practice. He was 
too humane to adopt the former course; for the with- 
drawal of royal protection would have been the signal 
for instant attack on the part of the people. How real 
this danger was can be judged from the fact that in 
1275 the Jews were driven out of Cambridge at the 
instigation of Edward's own mother. He, therefore, 
chose the latter alternative, and issued a general and 1275 
severe prohibition of usury, accompanied with the per- 
mission that the Jews might engage in commercial and 
industrial pursuits or in agriculture. The Jews were 
asked to change at a moment's notice a mode of life 
which had become a second nature to them, and one 
which they had been encouraged — one may almost say 
compelled — to pursue in England for two centuries. The 
hardship of the prohibition was aggravated by the 
impossibility of profiting by the permission. So long as 
the Jew was liable to violence from his neighbours, he 
could hardly engage in any occupation which involved 
the possession of bulky goods. Jewels and bonds were 
the only kinds of moveable property that could easily be 
secured against attack. As a writer who can scarcely be 
accused of undue partiality to the Jews has observed: 
" The ancient house at Lincoln seems to suggest by its 
plan and arrangements that the inhabitants were prepared 
to stand a siege, and men who lived under such conditions 
could hardly venture to pursue ordinary avocations." 1 
But there were more specific reasons explaining the Jew's 
inability to conform to Edward's decree. A Jew could 
not become a tradesman, because a tradesman ought to be 
a member of a Guild ; as a general rule, no one could join 
a Guild, who was not a burgess ; and the law forbade the 
Jews to become burgesses. But, even if the law allowed 
it, the Jews could not, without violating their religion, 
participate in the feasts and ceremonies of the Guilds. 
Nor were the handicrafts more accessible to the Jews; 

1 W. Cunningham, The Growth of English Industry and Commerce, 
p. 187. 


for most of them were in the hands of close corpora- 
tions into which the despised Jew could not easily gain 
admittance. Moreover, an apprenticeship of many years 
was required, and apprenticeship necessitated residence 
in the master's house. Now the Church forbade the 
Christians, on pain of excommunication, to receive 
Jews in their houses, and, therefore, a Jewish boy, even 
if his own parents' prejudices and the scruples of the 
Synagogue were overcome, could not become a Christian's 
apprentice. Agriculture was likewise out of the question, 
because, even if the landlords would have them, the 
Jews, being forbidden by their religion to take the oath 
of fealty, could not become villeins. The popular hatred 
of the Jew rendered the profession of peddler or carrier 
equally perilous. His Semitic face and conspicuous 
yellow badge, which he was compelled to wear from the 
age of seven, would have made him a target for insult 
and assault on every road and at every fair in the 

Thus the Jew, after two hundred years' residence in 
England, found himself labouring under all the dis- 
abilities of an alien, the only occupation left open to him 
being that which foreign merchants were allowed to 
pursue — namely, the export trade in wool and corn ; 
but for this occupation, limited at the best, a great 
capital was needed, and, therefore, after the recent suffer- 
ings of the race, few could find profit in it. For all 
these reasons, Edward's alternative remained a dead 
letter, and, as the Jews could not suffer themselves to 
starve, usury continued rampant, and the second error 
proved worse than the first. The distemper was far 
too complex to be cured by Edward's simple remedy. 
It might have been encouraged by impunity ; it certainly 
was accentuated by severity. The money-lenders, no 
longer under official supervision, exceeded all bounds of 
extortion : the peril of detection had to be paid for. 
The demand for loans increased as the supply diminished, 
the rate of interest rose, and, as the transactions had to 
be kept secret, all sorts of subterfuges were resorted to : 
a bond was given for a multiple of the sum actually 


received, and the interest often figured under the 
euphemism of " gift " or " compensation for delay," or, 
if the money-lender combined traffic in goods with traffic 
in money, the interest was paid in kind. It was con- 
trary to common sense and human experience to expect 
that a royal statute should have prevailed over what 
really was an inevitable necessity, and the abuses that 
followed were only such as might have been anticipated 
in a society where the borrowers were many and needy, 
the lenders few and greedy, and the two classes were 
impelled to deal with each other by the strongest 
of motives — the motive of self-preservation. 

But even clandestine usury required capital, and the 
poorer Jews, devoid of industrial skill or legal standing, 
despised by the people, denounced by the clergy, helpless, 
hopeless, and unscrupulous, betook themselves to highway 
robbery, burglary, coin-clipping, or baptism. The penul- 
timate source of revenue, which, as has been noted, 
supplied already one of the most common charges brought 
against the Jews, forced Edward to strike hard and 
quickly. His severity was proportionate to the magni- 
tude of the evil. The depreciation of the currency due 
to the prevalence of forgery had led to an alarming rise 
in the price of commodities ; foreign merchants had left 
the country, and trade fallen into stagnation. The greater 
share of the blame was generally, and not unjustly, attri- 
buted to the Jews. In one night all the Jews in the 
country were thrown into prison, their domiciles were 
searched, and their effects seized. Edward, in his anxiety 
to punish none but the guilty, issued an edict, in which 
he warned his Christian subjects against false accusations, 
such as might easily have been concocted by people eager 
to gratify their religious bigotry, private malice, or 
cupidity. The enquiry resulted in the conviction of many 
Jews and Christians. Of the latter, three were sentenced 
to death and the rest to fines. But no mercy was shown 
to the Jews. Two hundred and eighty of them were 
hanged, drawn, and quartered in London alone, and all 
the houses, lands, and goods of a great number were 
confiscated. A very few took refuge in conversion, and 


received a moiety of the money realised by the confiscation 
of their brethren's property. 

This deplorable state of things convinced Edward of 
the futility of his policy. Other causes intensified his 
anger against the Jews. In the first year of his reign a 
Dominican friar embraced Judaism, a little later a Jew 
was burnt for blasphemy at Norwich, and, in 1278, a 
Jewess at Nottingham created great excitement by abusing 
in virulent terms the Christians in the market place ; all this 
despite the King's proclamation that blasphemy against 
Christ, the Virgin Mary, or the Catholic faith should be 
visited with loss of life or limbs, and the penalties, not 
less severe, which the Church reserved for apostates. 
1281 Parliament now urged the expulsion of the Jews. 

Edward, his native moderation notwithstanding, could 
not defy public opinion. The precedent of his mentor, 
the brave and wise baron Simon de Montfort, also pointed 
About 1253 in the same direction. The latter had expelled the Jews 
from Leicester and given to the burgesses a solemn 
promise that they should never return. 1 The example 
could not but have its influence upon Edward, and his 
own mental attitude was too orthodox to render him 
impervious to the overwhelming prejudices of the age. 
He had endeavoured to reconcile duty with humanity, 
and had failed. Neither did the Christians wish to receive 
the Jews amongst themselves, nor would the Jews have 
embraced such an invitation. So long as they remained 
in England, mutual antipathy and mutual bigotry would 
bar amalgamation, and therefore, under the feudal system, 
the only calling which the Jews could pursue, in a 
Christian country, would be the sinful traffic in money. 
Since the Jews could not be improved, they ought to be 

While Edward was slowly coming to the one inevitable 
conclusion, there arrived in England, at the end of 1286, 
a Bull from the Pope Honorius IV., addressed to the 
archbishops and bishops. After a lengthy enumeration 

1 The original charter of expulsion has recently been discovered ; it 
was, by a gracious irony of history, found at Leicester at a time when a 
Jew had been thrice mayor of the town. 


of the familiar charges brought against the Jews — their 
obedience to " a wicked and deceitful book, called Talmud, 
containing manifold abominations, falsehoods, heresies, 
and abuses " ; their seduction of brethren snatched from 
infidelity, and their perversion of Christians ; their im- 
morality, their criminal intercourse with Christians, and 
other " horrible deeds done to the shame of our Creator 
and the detriment of the Catholic faith " — Honorius bade 
the bishops increase their severity, and their " spiritual 
and temporal penalties " against the " accursed and per- 
fidious" people. In consequence of this mandate, we find 1287 
a synod at Exeter passing ordinances restricting still 
further the Jew's discretion in matters of dress and 
behaviour. The apostolic epistle accelerated Edward's 
decision. It is also probable that the King, on the eve 
of his struggle with Scotland and France, thought it 
prudent to conciliate his English subjects by yielding 
to their demand for the expulsion of the hated people. 

On the 1 8 th of July, 1290, a decree was issued order- 
ing that all Jews should leave England before the Feast 
of All Saints, sentence of death being pronounced against 
any who should be found lingering in the country after 
the prescribed date. 

The severity of the measure was somewhat mitigated by 
the king's sincere anxiety to spare the exiles gratuitous 
insult and injury. The officers charged with the execu- 
tion of the decree were ordered to ensure the safe arrival 
of the Jews on the coast, and their embarkation. They 
were permitted to carry away all the effects that were in 
their possession at the time, together with any pledges 
that were not redeemed by the Christian debtors before a 
certain day. As a further inducement for the payment of 
debts, the latter were given to understand that, if they did 
not pay a moiety to the Jews before their departure, they 
would remain debtors to the Treasury for the full 
amount. A few Jews, personally known and favoured 
at Court, were even allowed to sell their real property to 
any Christian who would buy it. In a word, everything 
that could be done to alleviate the misery of the exiles, 
was suggested by Edward. 


The autumn was spent in hurried preparations. Those 
who had money out at interest hastened to collect it, and 
those who had property too unwieldy for transport 
hastened to part with it for what it would yield. It is 
easy to imagine the enormous loss which this compulsory 
liquidation must have entailed on the wretched Jews. 
Their goods were sold at such prices as might have been 
expected from the urgency of the case, and the knowledge 
that all that could not be disposed of would have to be left 
behind. Their houses, their synagogues, and their ceme- 
teries fell into the hands of the King, who distributed 
them among his favourites. Their bonds and mortgages 
were also appropriated by the Royal Exchequer ; but the 
debts were imperfectly collected, and the remainder, 
after many years' delay, were finally remitted by Edward 

As the fatal day drew near, the emigrants, sixteen 
thousand all told, men, women, and children, might be 
seen hurrying from different parts of England to the coast, 
some riding, the majority trudging, sullen and weary, 
along the muddy roads, the men with their scanty luggage 
slung over their shoulders, the women with their babes in 
their arms. Thus they went their last journey on 
English soil, under the bleak sky of an English October, 
objects of scorn rather than of pity to the people among 
whom they had lived for more than two hundred years. 
The King's biographer relates with great exultation how 
" the perfidious and unbelieving horde was driven forth 
from England, in one day into exile," and the English 
Parliament, which nine years before had demanded the 
expulsion of the unbelievers, now expressed the gratitude 
of the nation for the fulfilment of their desire, by voting 
a tenth and a fifteenth to the King. But if the English 
were glad to get rid of the Jews, the Jews were not sorry 
to depart. It was only what they had already begged to 
be allowed to do. Though born and bred among the 
English, they did not even speak their language. They 
spoke the language of the Normans who had brought 
them to England for their own purposes, and ejected 
them when those purposes no longer held. They were 


as foreign to the land on this day of their departure, 
as their fathers had been on the day of their arrival, full 
two centuries earlier. Their residence in England was a 
mere episode in their long career of sorrow and trial, only 
a temporary halt on the weary pilgrimage which began at 
Zion and would end in Zion. 

Nor were their last experiences such as to sweeten their 
feelings towards the land they were leaving. Despite the 
king's merciful provision, there was no lack of oppor- 
tunities for expressing, otherwise than by looks and words, 
the bitter hatred nourished against the emigrants. The 
old chroniclers have handed down to us an incident which 
may safely be regarded as only an extreme specimen of 
the cruel memories which the children of Israel carried 
away from England. On St. Denis' Day the Jews of 
London set out on their way to the sea-coast, and got on 
board a ship at the mouth of the Thames. The captain 
had cast anchor during the ebb-tide, so that his vessel 
grounded on the sands. Thereupon he requested the 
passengers to land, till it was again afloat. They 
obeyed, and he led them a long way off so that, when 
they returned to the river-side, the tide was full. Then 
he ran into the water, hauled himself on board by means 
of a rope, and referred the hapless Jews to Moses for 
help. Many of them tried to follow him but perished in 
the attempt, and the captain divided their property with 
his crew. The chroniclers add that the ship-master and 
his sailors were afterwards indicted, convicted of murder, 
and hanged. Similar crimes of robbery and murder were 
brought home to the inhabitants of the Cinque Ports ; but 
the punishment of the offenders brought little consolation 
to the victims. 

The sea proved as cruel to the Jews as the land had 
been. Fierce storms swept the Channel, many of the 
ships were wrecked and many of the exiles were robbed 
and drowned by the captains, or were cast naked on the 
French coast. Those who escaped shipwreck and murder 
reached the shore they sought only to find it as inhospi- 
table as the one from which they fled. A decree of 
the Parliament de la Chandeleur, issued in obedience 


to the Pope's wishes, bade all Jewish refugees from 
England to quit the kingdom by the middle of next 
Lent. Some of them, thanks to their French tongue, 
may have escaped detection and remained in France, 
sharing the treatment of their co-religionists already 
described; another party, mostly poor, took refuge in 
Flanders ; but the majority joined their brethren in 
Spain, whither we shall follow them. 



As we have seen in a previous chapter, the lot of the 
Spanish Jews under Mohammedan rule was supremely 
enviable. Their condition in the Christian parts of the 
Iberian Peninsula was less uniformly prosperous. We 
there find two forces at work, one favourable to the 
children of Israel and the other the exact opposite. The 
people and the Church were ill-disposed towards them ; 
the princes and the nobles protected them. Their history 
is therefore marked by the vicissitudes of the conflict 
between those two forces, and their ultimate fate was to 
be determined by the result of that conflict. That they 
should be mulcted by the Christian princes was only what 
might have been expected. In Spain they were subjected, 
among other burdens, to a hearth tax, a coronation tax, 
a tax on various kinds of their own food, and a tax for 
the King's dinner. In Portugal, under Sancho II., they 
had to pay, besides other things, a fleet tax, and were 
obliged to supply a new anchor and cable to every vessel 
built for the royal marine. On the other hand, they 
enjoyed a large measure of communal autonomy, settled 
their disputes in their own Beth-Din, or religious tribunal, 
and even passed capital sentence on culprits of their own 
persuasion. Despite manifold restrictions in the exercise 
of certain trades and handicrafts, they often succeeded in 
eluding the law, which in the earlier days was not 
rigorously enforced, and in pursuing a variety of occupa- 
tions. They dealt in corn, cattle, silk, spices, timber, and 
slaves. They were goldsmiths, mechanics, peddlers, and 
pawnbrokers. The trade in cloth and wool, both 


domestic and foreign, was largely in their hands ; but 
they abstained from the manufacture of cloth, partly 
owing to prohibitive legislation by the State, as was the 
case in Majorca during the fourteenth century, and partly 
in obedience to the Talmud, which denounced weaving as 
an immoral occupation, inasmuch as it tended to facilitate 
undesirable propinquity between the sexes. Many of the 
upper classes found equally, or more, lucrative employ- 
ment as physicians, clerks of the Treasury, and public 

Then was formed in Spain that higher type of Jew 
which compelled even the Christians to forget their con- 
tempt for the race. Visigothic legislation was ignored in 
practice, and the Jews ceased to be systematically trampled 

1061-1073 upon. Pope Alexander II., the coadjutor and immediate 
predecessor of Gregory Hildebrand, in a decree issued to 
all the bishops of Spain, draws a distinction between the 
Saracens and the Jews, the latter being described as 
worthy of toleration on account of "their readiness to 
serve." Some of the municipalities treated them on 
equal terms with the Christians, and in both Aragon 
and Castile the Jews were allowed to act as judges. The 
Christian princes found in them some of the qualities 
which commanded their respect towards the Arabs, and 
they would fain avail themselves of their lights. They 
employed Jewish physicians, Jewish financiers, and Jewish 

1085 tutors. Alfonso VI. of Castile began by diplomacy the 

liberation of Spain, which was to be accomplished by the 
military prowess of his successors. In this initial stage 
of the movement, despite the persecution proclaimed 
against the " enemies of Christ " by Pope Gregory VII., 
the Castilian King employed the astute and polyglot 
Jews, notably his private physician, Isaac Ibn Shalbib, 
and after the conquest of Toledo he confirmed to the 
Jews of that town all the liberties which they had enjoyed 
under the Mohammedan rulers. Then Alfonso, resolved 
to attack the Saracen King of Seville, whom he had used 
as a tool in taking Toledo, thought it necessary to apprise 
his former ally of his change of policy and bid him 
defiance. The delicate task- was entrusted to Ibn Shalbib, 


attended by five hundred Christian knights. The 
Jewish diplomatist carried out his master's instructions 
so thoroughly and so boldly that the Mohammedan 
prince, in his fury, forgot the inviolability of the ambas- 
sadorial character, and nailed the unfortunate envoy to a 

The comparative liberty enjoyed by the Spanish Jews, 
under the aegis of the Kings, brought with it opulence 
and luxury. The Spanish synagogues were renowned 
throughout Europe for their beauty, and the private 
dwellings of the Spanish Jews were not less noted for 
their magnificence. The Spanish Jews, as their brethren 
elsewhere, set much store by social distinction, and knew 
how to combine extravagance with economy. The stately 
names and expensive equipages of the Christian nobility 
were copied by them, not wisely but too well. Their 
profuse ostentation of wealth in domestic decoration and 
personal apparel excited the envy, and royal patronage the 
jealousy of their neighbours. These feelings, intensified 
by religious antipathy, laid up a fund of prejudice which 
only awaited a suitable opportunity for converting itself 
into active hostility. The same causes which brought 
about the eruption of anti-Judaism in other countries 
operated in Spain also. First, the Crusading spirit 
which, though it produced no immediate massacres in 
Spain, as it did in Central Europe, remained longer 
alive by the Spaniard's undying enmity to the Jew's 
cousin, the Saracen invader, whose invasion, it must be 
remembered, the Jews had facilitated, or, at all events, 
welcomed. Secondly, the hatred of heresy which, fostered 
by the monastic orders, found in Spain a more fertile soil 
than in any other Christian country. So strong and so 
pertinacious were these influences in the Iberian Peninsula 
that the Kings who favoured the Jews were often obliged 
to assuage public irritation, and to save their proteges from 
the ebullitions of popular fanaticism by separating them 
from the Christians. Already in the eleventh century we 
hear of a " Jewish barrier " erected in Tudela. This 
separation was also countenanced by the Church, though 
from widely different motives. In Coyaca, in the 1079 


Asturias, a Council decreed that no Christian should 
reside in the same house with Jews, or partake of their 
food. Persons caught transgressing this canon were 
sentenced, if noblemen, to one year's excommunication, 
if of lower degree to one hundred lashes. Thus the 
normal isolation of Israel was encouraged by two powers 
which, acting with opposite intent, converged to the same 
dangerous result. But it was not until late in the thir- 
teenth century that the gathering animosity came to a 
head, and declared itself in more methodical efforts at 
segregation and humiliation, conversion or extirpation. 

Meanwhile the undercurrent of prejudice was checked 
by the action of the Kings. When, for instance, the 

121 2 Crusaders from across the Pyrenees, red-handed from the 
massacre of the Albigenses, came to Spain as allies in 
the war against the Mohammedans, and began the work 
of exterminating the infidels by attacking the Jews 
of Toledo, King Alfonso IX. warded off the blows, 
and the misdirected zeal of the foreign fanatics was 
condemned even by the populace of Castile. When, 

1 215 again, Innocent III. at the Fourth Lateran Council 
ordered the Jews to be marked off by a special badge, 
the Jews of Spain, through their influence at Court, 
succeeded in avoiding the effects of the decree. King 
Alfonso connived at their disobedience, and vain were the 
unwearied efforts of Innocent's successor, Honorius III., 
to enforce the Jewish disabilities. Similar immunity from 

1220 the ignominious ordinances of St. Peter's See was secured 
by the Jews of Aragon through the exertions of the 
physician of King Jayme I. Several years after King 

1248 Ferdinand allotted three parishes to the Jewish com- 
munity of Seville, and surrounded them with a wall for 
their defence. Within this enclosure were the exchanges, 
markets, slaughter-houses, synagogues and tribunals of the 
Jews, while their cemetery spread over an adjacent field. 

But how long could the Court maintain its Judaeophile 
attitude in the teeth of the growing animosity against the 

1252-84 race ? Alfonso X., surnamed the Wise, employed Jews as 

Chamberlains and Chancellors of the Exchequer, as well as 

" in the construction of his famous Astronomical Tables. 


But the same King was forced to throw a sop to Cerberus 1261 
by enacting that " the Jews may not enlarge, elevate, or 
beautify their synagogues." Another law of Alfonso's 
contained the following ominous statement : " Although 
the Jews deny Christ, they are still suffered in all Christian 
countries, so that they should remind everybody that they 
belong to that race which crucified Jesus." During this 
reign conversion of a Christian to Judaism was punished 
with death. No Jew was to be elevated to any public 
office. The wearing of the badge was made compulsory, 
and anyone seen without it was, if rich, fined ; if poor, 
scourged. Social intercourse between Jews and Christians 
was made a punishable offence. The Jews should not 
appear abroad on Good Friday. Though himself in the 
hands of a Jewish physician, Alfonso decreed that no 
Christian should take medicine prepared by a Jew. 
These restrictions, however, were tempered by measures 
protective of the religion, the persons and the property 
of the Jews ; and they did not really become active until 
a much later period. 

Two years later there occurred in Barcelona, under the 1263 
auspices of Jayme I., the famous disputation between the 
Dominican Pablo Christiani and the Rabbi Nachmanides, 
which led to the latter's exile, and to the expurgation of 
the Talmud. 1 

In the meantime the silly and sinister fables which 
caused the persecution of the Jews in England and else- 
where met with credence in Spain also. But, if the pious 
were exasperated by these stories, less foolish persons 
found a sufficient food for their spleen in the better 
founded charges of rapacity constantly brought against 
the Jewish money-lenders; while the holy indigna- 
tion of others was aroused by the occasional sight of 
Christian proselytes seeking in the arms of the Synagogue 
a spiritual rest which they could not find in the Church ; 
or by the spectacle, even less edifying, of Christian noble- 
men seeking in the arms of a Jewish bride the wherewithal 
to regild their tarnished escutcheons. All these grievances, 
assiduously nursed by fanatical clerics and loudly voiced by 
1 See above, p. 98. 


insolvent debtors, culminated in violent attacks upon the 
" accursed people " during the fourteenth century. The 
Jewish colonies were repeatedly looted and burnt and 
the inmates slaughtered without mercy and without regard 

About 1330 to sex or age. In one attack of this kind in the kingdom 

of Navarre no fewer than ten thousand Israelites perished.. 

But the time had not yet come for a general persecution 

of Israel in Spain. The demon of Jew-hatred, if irritated, 

I 3 2 5- I 35° was also curbed by kingly favour. Alfonso XI. drew 
down upon himself the wrath of pious Christians by 
employing Jewish ministers in his treasury. Under this 
prince the Spanish Jews, indeed, enjoyed what some 
writers have described as their Golden Age. They were 
powerful at Court, and equally influential with the great 
nobility, many Castilian magnates employing them as 
bailiffs and advisers. Their wealth and their power cowed 
clerical and popular fanaticism, and overawed the 
avaricious proclivities of impecunious hidalgos. This 

1 3 50-1 369 prosperity lasted under Alfonso's successor, Don Pedro, 
or Peter the Cruel. Samuel Levi, treasurer to the King 
and his victim, is reported to have left behind him the 
princely fortune of 400,000 ducats; an affluence which 
proved his undoing. 

Nor was royal favour limited to one class of Jews, any- 
more than Jewish usefulness was limited to one province 

1 333-1379 of activity. Henry II. of Castile, the half-brother of 
Don Pedro, and other Iberian sovereigns employed the 
talents of the Jews in various capacities. Through their 
correspondence with their brethren all over Europe and 
the East, the Jews were the best agents for commercial 
and political negotiations. Their astronomical science, 
and their skill in map-drawing and in the construction of 
nautical instruments, recommended them to princes 
anxious to profit by the exploration of new lands. 
Jewish pilots and navigators must have been in great 
demand, for they subsequently helped Vasco da Gama 
in his voyages ; while Jewish capitalists and adventurers 
participated in many of the great transatlantic expeditions 
1334 of later times. Jayme III., the last king of Mallorca, 

describes Juceff Faguin, a Jew of Barcelona, as a man 


who " had navigated the whole of the then known 
world " ; while Benjamin of Tudela's older Itinerary is a 
work of world-wide renown. John II. of Castile, in the 1404- 1454 
ensuing century, even sought the assistance of Jews in the 
compilation of a national Cancionero, for the Jews in 
Christian, as in Mohammedan, Spain attained high 
distinction as troubadours. One of them, Santob de 
Carrion, who flourished in Castile in the fourteenth 
century, produced a Spanish Book of Maxims, which, 
thanks to its charming quaintness, preserved its popu- 
larity far into the fifteenth. Not less important are the 
contributions of Iberian Jews to the vernacular drama. 

The Jew's old aversion to the language of Titus, the 
destroyer of the Temple, had also partially vanished 
from Spain, and many Jewish politicians employed Latin 
in the diplomatic correspondence which they conducted 
for their Christian masters, while the Spanish language in 
the fourteenth century even bade fair to oust Hebrew, 
the Book of Esther being, in some parts of the peninsula, 
read in the vernacular on the Feast of Purim, for the 
benefit of the women, to whom the sacred tongue was no 
longer intelligible. Naturally such liberalism scandalised 
strait-laced pietists, who did their utmost to prevent the 
profanation of Holy Writ. But the real check to the 
gradual reconciliation between Jew and Gentile in Spain 
did not proceed from the Jewish side, as we shall see. 

All this sunshine was already overshadowed by the 
clouds which herald the storm. In the year of the Black 1 348 
Death the charge of well-poisoning stirred up the mob of 
Barcelona against the Jews, twenty of whom were slain 
and their houses sacked, a wholesale massacre being 
averted only by the intervention of the higher classes. 
A few days later a similar outbreak at Cervera resulted in 
the murder of eighteen Jews and the flight of the rest. 
Destruction threatened all the Jewish communities of 
Northern Spain, and their members, panic-stricken, betook 
themselves to prayer, fasting, and other precautions of a 
more practical character against the impending attack, 
which, however, was prevented by the nobility and by a 
Papal Bull, in which Clement VI. — who, though no saint, 


was an accomplished gentleman and a broad-minded 
prince — exposed the absurdity of the poison charge, and 
prohibited the Christians from assaulting the Jews on 
pain of excommunication. 

During the long civil war in Castile between Don 
Pedro and his brother Don Henry, the heirs of Alfonso 
XL, the Jews had the misfortune to back the losing side. 
They sustained heavy losses in many a battle and siege, 
and suffered terribly at the hands of friend and foe alike. 
The great community of Toledo was decimated out of 
all recognition. Throughout Castile congregations once 
flourishing were reduced to penury, and many of their 
members in sheer despair embraced Christianity. The 
Jews of Burgos, even after Don Pedro's death, remained 
stubbornly loyal to his memory, and when all Spain had 
recognised Don Henry's rule they alone had the courage 
to defy him — a constancy which moved the usurper's 
admiration, and secured to the besieged terms of sub- 
mission honourable to both sides alike. Peace was 
restored, but it brought small comfort to Israel. Don 
Henry had always pretended that one of the causes of his 
enmity to his brother was the latter' s partiality for the 
Jews. The vanquished enemy's favourites would now 
have been made to suffer the extreme rigour of Henry's 
vengeance but for the financial straits in which the victor 
found himself. Instead of annihilating, Don Henry 
preferred to exploit the Jews. But the King's forbearance 
roused the indignation of his followers, who felt despoiled 
of the fruits of their victory. In 1371 the Cortes 
assembled at Toro rebuked the King for employing the 
enemies of the faith at Court, and for allowing them to 
farm the revenues of the Crown. The representatives of 
the nation insisted that the Jews should be excluded from 
State offices, confined within special quarters, compelled to 
wear the badge, and forbidden to display their riches in 
their apparel or equipages, or to bear Christian names. 
The King, while dismissing most of these demands, 
thought it wise to concede the last three, and he also 
decreed some measures intended to restrain the rapacity 
of Jewish money-lenders. The clergy also, who had 


sanctioned Don Henry's usurpation of the throne, 
claimed a reward in the shape of anti- Jewish legislation. 
Religious disputations were, therefore, revived, and 1375 
Jewish renegades were once more the protagonists in 
the sorry farce. 

At the same time the Church renewed its efforts to 
prevent the Christians from mingling with the impure 
race. The necessity for this persistent confirmation of 
anti-Jewish regulations shows that, though the antipathy 
between Jew and Gentile was spontaneous, and though 
both Church and Synagogue vied with each other in their 
endeavours to keep the two elements in sempiternal 
alienation, yet the social instinct which forms the strongest 
trait of human nature often triumphed over the barriers 
set up by religious bigotry. But human nature was 
allowed little opportunity for asserting itself. The 
Council of Palencia passed a decision forbidding Catholics 1388 
to dwell within the quarters assigned to the Jews and 
Moors, under penalty of excommunication. Two years 139° 
later the Jews of Majorca were forbidden to carry arms. 
Next year, thanks to the eloquence of the fanatical priest 139 1 
Martinez, a series of wholesale massacres took place in 
Castile and Aragon, in which thousands of Jews were 
sacrificed to priestly and popular rage, and the cities of 
Seville, Toledo, Cordova, Catalonia, Barcelona, Valencia, 
as well as the island of Majorca, were coloured red with 
Jewish blood; while great numbers of the unfortunate 
people sought safety in half-hearted apostasy. Efforts 
were made to confirm the hold upon these captured 
infidels, popularly known as Marranos^ or " the Damned," 
by ecclesiastical preferment and by the bestowal of 
municipal dignities ; while many impecunious aristocrats, 
anxious to restore their declining fortunes, brought riches 
to themselves and a lasting reproach to their posterity by 
courting the fair daughters of converted Israel ; so much 
so that many a noble Castilian pedigree to this day can 
be traced to such an alliance. But neither ecclesiastical 
or civic honours nor social advancement were sufficiendy 
potent to keep the " new Christians " in the faith. There 
were, of course, exceptions to the rule — a truism which 


we are apt to overlook in dealing with the history of the 
Jews. Some, no doubt, who had honestly outgrown the 
racial and religious swathings of Judaism, were glad 
enough to adopt Christianity. Unfettered by spiritual 
convictions, they preferred the creed which entailed no 
social stigma. They deserve as little blame as admiration. 
Others, however, there were who, setting worldly advan- 
tages, or the gratification of private grudges, above 
principle, found both profit and pleasure in the persecu- 
tion or vilification of their former brethren. But neither 
of these classes represented the majority. Most of the 
neophytes, as soon as they safely could, slipped the 
suffocating cloak, and came forth in their true character, 
while others vacillated between Church and Synagogue, 
trying to serve two masters, and by so doing increased 
the animosity of the priests against the race ; for the 
theologian does not agree with the psychologist in hold- 
ing that a feigned or fictitious faith is better than none 
at all. As in the time of the Visigoth tyrants, so now 
thousands of Jews and forced converts fled to Africa. 
Many towns on the coast, from Algiers westward, were 
filled with the unfortunate refugees from Spain and 
Majorca, who found the African Berbers more humane 
than the European Christians. 

The recent tribulations and the anticipation of worse 
sufferings in the near future gave rise to a new Messianic 
frenzy. According to the Scriptures, the advent of the 
Redeemer was to be preceded by terrible persecution. 

1 39 1 Three Messiahs appeared to voice the convictions and to 
try the faith of the hunted people : Abraham of Granada, 
Shem-Tob, and Moses Botarel. All three were mystics, 
the last one also an impostor. 

The fifteenth century adds fresh scenes to the tale of 
sorrow, new " black-letter days " to the Jewish Calendar, 
and more dark pages to the history of Europe. In 1408 
the anti-Jewish statutes of Alfonso the Wise were revived. 
Ruinous fines were imposed upon any Christian who 
should confer, or Jew who should accept, municipal or 

141 2 other office. Four years later the intercourse of the Jews 
with the Christians was restricted, and their commercial 


and industrial activity hampered by numerous prohibitions. 
They were forbidden to act as physicians, apothecaries, 
and stewards to the nobility ; as bakers, millers, or 
vintners. They were debarred from selling oil or butter ; 
from exercising the handicrafts of smith, carpenter, tailor, 
or shoemaker, and, of course, from farming or collecting 
the public revenues. It was further decreed that no Jew 
should carry any kind of arms, or be addressed as Don ; 
that the unclean people should live in special quarters 
(Juderias) provided with not more than one gate each, 
and that they should not employ Christian servants. Thus 
the seclusion which was at first granted to the Jews as a 
privilege and a protection was now enforced as a means 
of oppression. Furthermore, they were stripped of their 
gay apparel, and compelled to wear a peculiar garment of 
coarse stuff and to display the hated badge, except such 
as could pay for permission to discard it, especially on 
their journeys. Lastly, they were forbidden to have their 
hair cut or their beards shaved. Confiscation of goods 
and corporal chastisement were the penalties inflicted 
for any breach of these and other regulations, the aim 
of which was, by humiliating and impoverishing the race, 
to induce it to embrace Christianity. A contemporary 
Jewish writer thus describes the sad effects of this edict : 
" Inmates of palaces were driven into wretched nooks, 
and dark and lowly huts. Instead of rustling apparel, 
we were obliged to wear miserable clothes which drew 
contempt upon us. Prohibited from shaving the beard, 
we had to appear like mourners. The rich tax-farmers 
sank into want, for they knew no trade by which they 
•could gain a livelihood, and the handicraftsmen found no 
custom. Starvation stared everyone in the face. Children 
died on their mothers' knees from hunger and exposure." 1 
In the midst of all this suffering the Church was not 
idle. The chief of the apostles was Vincent Ferrer, a 
Dominican friar and indefatigable winner of souls, after- 
wards canonised for his exertions. This sincere, though 
forbidding saint, who called his bigotry religion and his 
liatred of heretics love of God, rushed from synagogue to 
1 Alami, quoted by H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iv. p. 220. 


synagogue, crucifix in hand, preaching the gospel of 
peace in a voice of thunder, and endeavouring to persuade 
the infidels to repentance by promises of comfort in this 
world and by threats of everlasting damnation in the 
next. Ferrer was more than an orator. His sermons 
were accompanied with exhibitions of the priest's dramatic 
genius and of the saint's thaumaturgic powers. Impres- 
sive processions and sacred hymns, banners, crucifices, and 
assaults upon the Jews heightened the effect of his. 
impassioned appeals. Thousands of wretches succumbed 
to Ferrer's eloquence, and many synagogues were turned 
into churches. This result was by contemporary piety 
attributed to the fiery exhortations addressed to the Jews, 
and to the miracles performed for their benefit, by St. 
Vincent ; but a twentieth century heretic, while admitting 
the efficacy of exhortation and miracle, may be pardoned 
for suspecting that the systematic persecution on the 
part of the State and the spontaneous fury of the mob 
had at least some influence in turning the hearts of the 

From Castile the preacher and persecution travelled to 
I + I 3 Aragon. The newly-elected King Ferdinand, who owed 
his elevation to Ferrer's influence, showed his gratitude 
by placing his conscience in the saint's keeping and the 
royal power at his disposal. St. Vincent, thus armed with 
both necessaries of success — enthusiasm and means — 
journeyed to and fro in the country, denouncing, exhort- 
ing, threatening, and baptizing; and the victims of his 
fervour in the two kingdoms are said to have exceeded 
twenty thousand souls. Such is the persuasive power of 
theological reasoning, when assisted by brute "force. In 
the same year a compulsory controversy between Hebrew 
renegades and Rabbis, on the traditional lines, was begun 
in Tortosa. 

No more splendid assembly ever met for the purpose 
of enforcing the gospel of divine mercy by the gratifica- 
tion of human vanity. The anti-pope Benedict XIII., 
clad in his pontifical robes, sat on a lofty throne, sur- 
rounded by cardinals and prelates refulgent with brocade 
of gold and gems. A thousand Spanish grandees. 


thronged behind this glorious group, while before it 
stood a small band of Jews anxious to defend their faith, 
without imperilling their lives. The truth of Christi- 
anity was beyond cavil. The falsity of Judaism, after the 
advent of Christ, was equally clear. Does the Talmud 
recognise Jesus as the Messiah or not ? That was the 
question which was debated in sixty-eight sittings extend- 
ing over a period of twenty-one months. 

And so the ruin of the Jews was progressing satis- 
factorily. The originators of the persecution passed away 
one after the other. Benedict XIII. was deposed by 
the Council of Constance and denounced by Vincent 
Ferrer as an " unfrocked and spurious Pope." The 
renegade Jew Geronimo vanished into his native 
obscurity. King Ferdinand died in 141 6, and St. Vincent 
was translated to heaven three years later. But the 
tribulations of Israel did not cease. Pope Martin V., 
indeed, surprised the world with a Bull of toleration, x l( . 
dictated, as one would gladly have believed, by Christian 
charity ; as documents prove, procured by bribery. But 
the plant of anti-Judaism had taken too deep roots to 
be permanently stunted by this tardy edict. Pope 
Eugenius IV. addressed another Bull to the Bishops of 1+42 
Castile and Leon, withdrawing the indulgences granted to 
the Jews by his predecessor, and he renewed all the old 
restrictions, adding that the unclean people should be 
confined to their houses during Holy Week. Autograph 
letters to the Castilian ecclesiastics exhorted them to 
enforce the Pontiff's orders without mercy. Pope I++7 
Nicholas V. aggravated all these measures of oppression. 
The Spanish Jews were now regarded simply as out- 
laws. The pious eschewed all dealings with them. Hus- 
bandmen deserted the fields, and shepherds the flocks 
belonging to the proscribed people; while the towns 
framed new regulations for their utter suppression. 
King Henry IV. of Castile and Juan II. of Aragon, 
horror-struck at the terrible cruelty of this treatment, or 
rather alarmed at its consequences on the royal exchequer, 
endeavoured to mitigate the sufferings of the Jews. But 
their efforts met with no success. The campaign on the 


part of the Dominicans was carried on vigorously, back- 
sliders were scented out and punished, charges of child- 
murder were preferred against the Jews, and the populace 
was stirred up to acts of violence, which grew in ferocity 
and frequency as the years rolled on. In 1468 a charge 
of this description led to a massacre at Sepulveda. In the 
1469 following year the Cortes of Ocana insisted that the anti- 
Jewish edicts should be stringently enforced. Despite 
Henry's feeble protests, the Jews for many years con- 
tinued to be exposed to the utmost cruelty of the priests 
and of the populace in an age when the priests and the 
populace were most cruel. They were not members of 
the Church, of the feudal aristocracy, or of the com- 
mercial and industrial corporations. Though living 
among the Christians, they were not of them. They were 
unpopular. They could not defend themselves ; and 
neither bishops, barons, nor burgesses would lift a finger 
in their defence. They were, therefore, abandoned with- 
out reserve and without remorse to the tender mercies of 
clerical and civic fanaticism. The Marranos especially 
continued to be the pet aversion and occupation of the 

A monastic writer of Andalusia, where the " new Chris- 
tians " were most numerous and now most miserable, 
quoted by Prescott, summarises contemporary feeling 
regarding them in the following eloquent lines : " This 
accursed race were either unwilling to bring their children 
to be baptized, or, if they did, they washed away the stain 
on returning home. They dressed their stews and other 
dishes with oil, instead of lard ; abstained from pork ; 
kept the Passover; ate meat in Lent; and sent oil to 
replenish the lamps of their synagogues ; with many other 
abominable ceremonies of their religion. They enter- 
tained no respect for monastic life, and frequently 
profaned the sanctity of religious houses by the violation 
or seduction of their inmates. They were an exceedingly 
politic and ambitious people, engrossing the most lucra- 
tive municipal offices, and preferred to gain their 
livelihood by traffic, in which they made exorbitant 
gains, rather than by manual labour or mechanical arts. 


They considered themselves in the hands of the Egyp- 
tians, whom it was a merit to deceive and plunder. By 
their wicked contrivances they amassed great wealth, and 
they were often able to ally themselves by marriage with 
noble Christian families." Here we find all the old 
sources of the Gentile's hatred towards the Jew: anti- 
pathy due to diversity of character — as manifested in 
occupation, daily diet, and conduct ; steeled by economic 
jealousy, and edged by religious bigotry. 

Such was the frame of the public mind, when short- 
sighted statecraft, in the person of Ferdinand, King of 1469 
Aragon, was wedded to narrow piety in that of Isabella, ° ct - 19 
heiress to the Crown of Castile. The legitimate offspring 
of such a union could be no other than persecution. But, 
even if the sovereigns were enlightened and tolerant, it is 
doubtful whether they could have stemmed the current. 
In 1473 the mob massacred the Constable of Castile at 
Jaen, because he attempted to repress its fury, and, 
after Isabella the Catholic's accession to the throne, peti- 
tions poured in from all sides clamouring for the 
extirpation of the "Jewish heresy." The bigots of 
Seville, headed by the Dominican prior of the monastery 
of St. Paul, agitated for the introduction of the Inquisi- 
tion — a tribunal originally established during Inno- 
cent III.'s pontificate at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century for the suppression of heresy — and their demand 
was seconded by the Papal Nuncio. In 1477 Friar 
Philip de Barberi, Inquisitor for Sicily, arrived in Seville 
to persuade the Spanish monarchs of the manifold virtues 
•of his remedy for infidelity. The prospect of plunder 
lured Ferdinand, while Isabella's feminine tenderness was 
assailed by the importunities and the casuistry of her 
spiritual advisers. Torquemada, the narrow-hearted 
Dominican of universal notoriety, had already poisoned 
the Queen's mind with his pernicious maxims of intoler- 
ance, when he acted as the guardian of her conscience 
in early youth. In that susceptible age he had extorted 
from his pupil the promise that she would devote her life 
* c to the extirpation of heresy, for the glory of God and 
the exaltation of the Catholic faith." He now reappears 


on the scene to claim the fulfilment of the fatal vow. 
The young queen, noble and generous though she was by 
nature, could not long withstand the unanimous exhorta- 
tions of persons whose sanctity her religion taught her to 
revere, and the superiority of whose wisdom her own 
modesty prompted her to accept without question. Much 
less could she resist her own beloved husband's solicita- 
tions. All that was good or engaging in her conspired 
with all that was ignoble in her counsellors to warp her 
judgment, to silence the voice of her heart, and to 
force her to give her consent to one of the greatest crimes 
of any time. 

It required but little effort to induce Pope Sixtus IV. to 
allow the establishment of the Holy Office in Castile for 
the detection and punishment of backsliders to Judaism, 
and the necessary Bull was issued on November 1st, 1478. 
But the Queen still hesitated to make use of the dread 
weapon, while her husband was not without misgivings 
regarding the absolute power claimed by the tribunal. As 
a last resource, before proceeding to extremes, the 
monarchs commanded Carcjjnal Mendoza, the Archbishop 
of Seville, to set forth the doctrines of the Catholic faith 
in a short catechism, and to cause his clergy to diffuse the 
light among the benighted Marranos throughout his 
diocese. This worthy and humane ecclesiastic gladly 
obeyed the royal command, and betook himself to the 
work of friendly persuasion. But with little success. 
The Christians were incited to acts of hostility by rumours 
of Jewish plots against the Church and the State, and of 
Jewish crimes of the traditional type, such as sacrifices of 
children and insults offered to the Host. The Govern- 
ment, yielding to public clamour, expelled the Jews from 
Seville and Cordova in 1478, and renewed the severe 
measures of repression in 1480. Furthermore, an ill- 
advised Jew, by the publication of a caustic criticism of 
Christianity at that inopportune moment, threw oil into 
the fire, and precipitated a catastrophe which perhaps no 
power on earth could have averted in any case. A people 
whose inflexibility had triumphed over the temptations 
and the persecutions of fifteen centuries was hardly likely 


to be bent by the good Archbishop's catechism ; and, after 
two years' fruitless endeavour, a Commission appointed 
for the purpose returned a highly disappointing report. 
The term of grace having expired, the only remaining 
alternative was the Inquisition. 1 

On September 17th, 1480, the tribunal was constituted 
of two Dominicans and two other ecclesiastics appointed 
by the Crown, and was ordered to commence operations 
at Seville without delay. The civil authorities were 
instructed to lend the assistance of the secular arm to the 
Judges ; but, owing to the opposition which the latter at 
first encountered on the part of the high-spirited Castilians, 
they were obliged to confine their activity for a while 
within those districts of Andalusia which depended 
directly from the Crown. However, limited as the field 
at first was, it proved more than sufficient for the purpose. 
The new year, 148 1, was inaugurated with an edict, 
published on January 2nd, bidding all true Catholics to 
aid the tribunal in the fulfilment of its mission, by indicat- 
ing any person that might be known as, or suspected of, 
entertaining heretical opinions. The result was a monster 
hunt with men for quarry and hounds, and Satan for their 
master. Soon the number of victims grew to such an 
extent that the court was obliged to exchange its seat in 
the monastery of St. Paul, within the city of Seville, for 
the larger castle of Triana, in the environs. There it 
established its headquarters and blasphemed the Deity 
whom it professed to serve by the following inscription, 
engraven over the portal: Exsurge, Domine; judica causam 
team; capite nobis vulpes, "Arise, O Lord; judge thine 
own cause ; capture for us the foxes." 

Day after day the Satanic sport went on, and the 
number of " foxes " increased apace. The Jews were not 
even allowed the privilege accorded to the animal. Flight 
was forbidden under penalty of death, and was prevented 
by guards posted at the gates of the city. None the less, 
some of the victims succeeded in escaping to Granada, 

1 A History of the Inquisition of Spain, by H. C. Lea (Macmillan, 
Vols. I., II. and III. of which have now appeared, 1 906), is a monumental 
work on its subject. 


France, Germany, and Italy, where they made an appeal 
to the Holy See from the barbarity of the Holy Office. 
Sixtus IV. contented himself with a gentle rebuke of his 
subalterns for their excessive zeal, soon followed by a 
request for more strenuous "purification," addressed to 
Ferdinand and Isabella. 

Never, perhaps, since the fall of the Roman Empire did 
the detestable trade of the informer flourish so lustily as 
it did during the ensuing years in Castile. Bigotry, 
malice, cupidity were all invited to contribute to the 
havoc, and, as the accuser's identity was sedulously con- 
cealed from the accused, the last motive for self-restraint 
was removed. A new coat or a clean shirt on Saturday 
morning, a cold hearth on Friday evening, avoidance of 
food popular among the Christians, or a taste for a kind 
of drink affected by the Jews, a visit to a Jewish house, — 
these were some of the proofs of Judaism accepted as 
conclusive evidence by this model court of justice. The 
grave itself afforded no refuge from its clutches. A 
person who was observed to turn his face to the wall 
when dying was at once pounced upon, and his body 
shared the fate of living heretics. 

The Inquisition had been in existence for three days- 
when six wretches suffered at the stake. Seventeen more 
followed in March, and at the end of ten months the 
"bag" had reached the number of two hundred and 
ninety-eight, in Seville alone, in addition to many effigies 
of those who had been fortunate enough to escape. The 
plague which devastated Seville in that year of evil omen 
did not interrupt the other plague. The Inquisition once 
more moved its racks, and continued its infernal work in 
Aracena. Meanwhile, its branch establishments carried 
on a brisk business in human lives in other parts of 
Andalusia, and their diligence is proved by the fact, which 
we owe to the Jesuit historian Mariana, that the net total 
of victims for the year amounted to two thousand burnt 
alive, and seventeen thousand sentenced to loss of 
property, loss of civil rights, or incarceration — mercies 
which figured in the balance sheet under the compre- 
H 8 3 hensive euphemism " reconciliation." In the third year 


Thomas de Torquemada was appointed by Sixtus IV. 
Inquisitor-General of Castile and Aragon, invested with 
full powers to draw up a new constitution for the Holy- 
Office. His labours resulted in the modern Inquisition, 
which for centuries after blasted the Iberian Peninsula and 
supplied historians, novelists, and dramatists with an 
inexhaustible mine of horrors. The Spaniards were not 
pleased to see the extension of the grim tribunal's opera- 
tions, and Pedro Arbues, the first Inquisitor who, in spite 
of popular protests, ventured to make his appearance in 
Aragon, was murdered in the Cathedral of Saragossa. But H 8 S 
all opposition was soon silenced. 

Year after year edicts were issued and read in every 
church on the first two Sundays of Lent, spurring the 
faithful, on pain of eternal damnation, to denounce 
their fellow-citizens, and often their nearest and dearest ; 
for loyalty to the cause cancelled all other bonds. Neither 
friendship nor family affection was permitted to interfere 
with the course of fanaticism, and the vilest crimes against 
nature and morality were hallowed by the blessings of the 
Church. The Marranos and their Jewish sympathisers 
and abettors, against whom the terrible engine- continued 
to be almost exclusively directed under Torquemada's 
management, were decimated, mulcted, and mutilated at 
the average annual rate of six thousand roasted or 
"reconciled," not including an unknown number of 
orphaned children doomed to starvation or vice by the 
confiscation of their patrimony. 

None were spared, but the most exalted were the first 
to be laid low ; judges and municipal officers, noble- 
men, and even clergymen suspected of Judaism were 
mysteriously snatched from their homes, conveyed to the 
subterranean dungeons of the Inquisition, and there, 
amid the terrors of darkness and solitude, were kept for 
a while in strict ignorance of the specific crime with which 
they were charged. When sufficiently bewildered in his 
lonely, cold, and lighdess cell, the prisoner was dragged 
before the court and asked to give straight and lucid 
answers to crooked and vague questions. It was accepted 
as a principle of judicial procedure that every prisoner 


was guilty until he proved himself to be innocent, and 
that it was better that ten innocents should suffer than 
one infidel escape. Denial of guilt was visited with torture, 
persistence in denial with more torture, and confession of 
sin — to obtain which was an essential element in the 
Inquisitorial process — with sentence of death or confis- 


ministers of Heaven's will on earth. It was this fatal 
certainty of the righteousness of their cause that turned 
the Inquisitors into monsters. Man would less often 
become a fiend if he never mistook himself for an angel. 

Torquemada himself, who has been execrated through 
the ages as the red-handed protagonist of the appalling 
tragedy, hardly deserves his great reputation. There is 
little originality in his crime. He was not more cruel, 
but only more conscientious, courageous, and consistent 
than millions of the men of his generation and creed. 
When in the nineteenth century we find Cardinal Newman 
— an English gentleman and scholar — preaching that " To 
spare a heresiarch is a false and dangerous pity. It is to 
endanger the souls of thousands, and it is uncharitable 
towards himself," 1 can we wonder that a Spanish priest 
should have acted on that principle in the fifteenth 
century ? Strong convictions do not, of course, excuse 
unscrupulous and unrelenting brutality, but they explain 
it. Given such a conviction, persecution becomes a duty 
and toleration a sin. If the persecutor cannot command 
our respect, he is at least entitled to our compassion. 
Torquemada deserves our pity almost as much as his 
victims. The drama in which he distinguished himself 
was an example of that highest kind of tragedy which 
needs no villain. Faith had spun the plot ; chance 
supplied the actor. 

Year after year the hunt went on. But, in spite of 
Torquemada's unremitting endeavours, few Israelites 
hesitated in the option between the font and the stake 
offered to them. Few chose the first, and, even with 
these, conversion was merely a device for escape from 
death. Inquisitors come and Inquisitors go, but Israel 
endures for ever ; and the hope of a better future supplied 
an indomitable patience with the present. Disappointment 
infuriated the persecutors, but failed to increase the ranks 
of the proselytes. It was in vain that ancient calumnies 
were revived, and fresh ones invented. It was in vain 
that the spies redoubled their activity, and the judges 
strained their murderous ingenuity. It was in vain that a 
1 Apologa pro vita sua, p. 29. 


tempest of execration and derision raged round the 
children of Israel. Torquemada and his accomplices were 
at last forced to recognise the fact that Judaism could not 
be extirpated, save by the extirpation of the Jews. And 
forthwith all his influence was brought to bear on 
persuading the sovereigns to drive the unclean and 
accursed race out of the country. 

This was an unexpected blow for the wretched Jews, 
who feared exile even more than execution. They had 
borne imprisonment, ignominy, penury, and mutilation 
unflinchingly, in the hope that time would soften the 
heart, or at least wear out the arm, of persecution. 
But final banishment, with all the terrible perils of ship- 
wreck, of famine, of attack by pirates and of disease 
which a large and unprotected crowd voyaging the high 
seas was certain to encounter in those days, would 
mean irretrievable ruin for the whole race. Moreover 
the Jews loved Spain with passionate devotion, 1 as is 
shown by the mediaeval Hebrew poetry which assumes 
some of its most glowing eloquence in praise of Anda- 
lusia. So, in order to avoid expatriation, the leading 
Jews offered thirty — some say three hundred — thousand 
ducats to the sovereigns as a ransom for their people. 

Ferdinand and Isabella, intent on bringing their costly 
Moorish campaign to a successful issue, were not dis- 
inclined to listen to a proposal which promised a 
reinforcement of their military resources. They received 
the Jewish deputy in audience, and there was every 
prospect of the negotiations coming to a happy con- 
clusion, when, at the psychological moment, Torquemada, 
the sleepless and ruthless, burst into the apartment of 
the palace where the interview was held, and, lifting up 
a crucifix, which he drew forth from beneath his cassock, 
thundered at the King and Queen : " Judas Iscariot sold 
his master for thirty pieces of silver. Your Highnesses 
would sell Him anew for thirty thousand; here He is, 

1 This attachment of Jews to countries with which they have long 
been identified recurs at the present day. Jewish emigration associa- 
tions are constantly faced by the reluctance of very many Russian Jews 
to tear themselves from Russia. 


take Him and barter Him away." With these words the 
terrible actor cast the crucifix upon the table and left the 

The effect of the scene on the sovereigns' minds was 
such as the crafty priest had anticipated. His sudden and 
opportune appearance, and his equally sudden disappear- 
ance, savoured of the miraculous ; his solemn warning 
seemed to issue from Heaven. The same superstitious 
subservience to ghostly influence which had induced 
Isabella more than a dozen years before to sanction the 
persecution of the Jews, now induced her to order their 
expulsion. Nor was there a voice to protest. The 
Castilians who would have bitterly resented the arbitrary 
banishment of one of themselves, heard with complacency 
a similar decision taken against a whole nation. For 
Israel was a people apart. They had no share in its 
interests ; and it had no share in their rights. 

It was the month of March in 1492, a year of incom- 1492 
parable moment for Spain, for Europe, and for the world 
at large. That year witnessed the capitulation of Granada, 
and the downfall of the Mohammedan Empire in the West ; 
a victory for the Cross which was received with hearty 
thanksgivings throughout Christendom as a providential 
compensation for the loss of Constantinople. The same 
year saw the departure of Christopher Columbus, under 
the flag of the Spanish monarchs, on that memorable 
voyage which was to result in a triumph wherein the 
whole of mankind had reason to rejoice. The same 
hands which signed those two glorious treaties now 
affixed their signatures to the edict that banished the Jews 
from the land in which they had lived longer than their 
persecutors, which they had loved as much, and adorned 
more than they. 

The end of July was fixed as the limit for their prepara- 
tions. They were permitted to liquidate their possessions 
and to carry away the proceeds in bills of exchange, but 
not in gold or silver, for an existing law forbade the 
exportation of precious metals from the country. The 
consequence of the edict was that the Jews were forced 
to sell or barter away some of their effects at a nominal 


price, and to leave the greater portion behind them. If 
contemporary witnesses are to be believed, a house was 
seen bartered for an ass, and a vineyard for a suit of clothes. 
In Aragon the property of the Jews was sequestered by 
the authorities for the benefit of their creditors, and the 
people constantly reviled for their excessive wealth and 
usury were found to owe more than they possessed ! 

The last months of the Jews' sojourn in Spain were 
spent by the priests in frantic efforts at conversion. But 
those who had opposed an adamant firmness to temptation 
when they had much to lose, could not be expected to 
yield when reduced to beggary. The consciousness of 
suffering for the Idea brought with it an exaltation that 
shed a halo over their misery. This affliction also was a 
fatherly rod, to be borne with fortitude ; an ordeal to be 
endured as a test of faith ; a humiliation that contained in 
it a promise of future glory. The God of their fathers, 
who had led them out of the house of bondage and fed 
them in the wilderness in the days of old, would not 
suffer his children to perish. The waters would again be 
divided for them, and the sea made dry land. This last 
expectation, confidently encouraged by the Rabbis, proved 
vain when the exiles reached the coast. But failure did 
not shake the faith of the children of Israel. The 
severer the martyrdom, the greater the certainty of 
beatitude. Scattered and scorned though they were, 
the day would dawn when they would once more be 
gathered under Jehovah's parent pinion. The light of 
Zion still shone in the distance undimmed. 

Thus, poor in worldly possessions, but rich in hope; 
defenceless, yet strong in faith, they journeyed from all 
parts of the country to the frontiers : the healthy and the 
sick, old men bending over their staffs, little footsore 
children tottering by their fathers' sides, and infants 
clinging to their mothers' breasts. Venerable Rabbis and 
scholars, delicately nurtured maidens, young gentlemen, 
yesterday proud cavaliers, to-day penniless and broken- 
spirited paupers — they all dragged their weary limbs in 
various directions : some north, others south ; one group 
to the east and another to the west. Many a wet eye 


followed the melancholy processions, and many a warm 
Spanish heart melted to pity, but no hand was held 
out to the wanderers, no word of comfort was addressed 
to them : the fear of God restrained many ; the fear of 
Torquemada more. The time of year added to the 
sadness of the spectacle. Andalusia was bathing in the 
exuberant beauty of a Spanish summer; the sky smiled 
blue and bright overhead, the earth was spangled with 
flowers beneath, the birds warbled blithely in the trees 
and bushes, the air was sweet with the scent of orange 
blossoms ; Nature seemed to hold a carnival of joy in 
mockery of the misery and heartlessness of man. 

The banishment of the Jews from England at the close 
of the thirteenth century was mere child's play compared 
with their expulsion from Spain at the close of the 
fifteenth. The Jews who left England had only been in 
the country for two centuries ; those who now left Spain 
had lived there more than twelve. The English exiles 
had borne small part in England's greatness ; the Spanish 
Jews had served the state in the highest capacities, had 
won universal fame in art, science and literature, and had 
become to the rest of the world's Jewries an exemplar of 
that harmonious combination of piety with culture which 
was nowhere, outside Spain, so prominent a feature of 
mediaeval life. And in quantity as in quality the Spanish 
banishment far surpassed its English prototype. The 
exiles from England amounted at most to sixteen 
thousand ; those from Spain were computed at least as 
one hundred and sixty thousand. Some accounts even 
raise them to five times that number. It was a move- 
ment on a scale comparable only to that of the exodus 
of Israel from Egypt, with the sole difference that, 
whereas the Jews had dwelt in Egypt as strangers and 
bondsmen in the land, in Spain they had become in 
many respects Spaniards. But the crime, augmented by 
a similar crime against the Moors, brought its penalty 
with it. Even accepting the lowest estimate as nearest 
the correct one, the price in skill, industry and intelli- 
gence, which Spain — despite her recent military achieve- 
ments and her budding power beyond the seas — had to 


pay for the gratification of her religious fanaticism cannot 
easily be calculated ; but it can be seen to this day. The 
same yoke which crushed the alien and the infidel could 
not but cramp the native and the Christian. Freedom 
of thought, speech, or action was dead. Intellectual 
culture was soon to be succeeded by monasticism, and 
material prosperity by mendicity. Meanwhile the value 
of Ferdinand and Isabella's Hebrew subjects could not 
but have been realised immediately on their departure. 
The Spanish Government, prompted by the Spanish 
Church, had said to the Jews : "Be baptized or be gone ! " 
The Jews went, and the life of Spain went with them. 
Stately mansions fell into mossy decay, rich cornfields 
and vineyards were turned into waste land, busy and 
populous cities were suddenly silenced as by a magician's 
black art. In return, Spain nursed the cold comfort of 
having served the cause of the gloomy and bloodthirsty 
monster that the age called God. 

Nothing throws a clearer light on the spirit of the 
times than the comments of contemporary writers on 
Ferdinand and Isabella's suicidal policy. The Spanish 
historians join in a chorus of indiscriminate panegyric; 
the Spanish poets sing paeans to the triumph of the Faith. 
Foreign spectators, while deprecating the severity of the 
methods employed, have nothing but praise for the 
motive. They all applaud the deed as a sacrifice of 
temporal to spiritual interests. It is true that Ferdinand's 
treasury was the richer for the confiscated property of the 
Jews. But, though lust for plunder may be regarded as 
the mainspring of his own policy, it was not the primary 
motive of the Dominicans, nor had it any share in Isa- 
bella's conduct. This amiable princess has laid her soul 
bare in the confession : " In the love of Christ and his 
maiden mother I have caused great misery, and have 
depopulated towns and districts, provinces and king- 
doms." The expulsion of the Jews, like the autos-da-fe^ 
was a crime committed principally por amor de Dios. 



Twelve thousand of Spanish fugitives sought shelter in 
Navarre, where, after a few years' peace, they were again 
confronted with the alternatives of baptism or banishment. 
Most of them, worn out with distress and disappoint- 
ment, adopted Christianity, and some of these converts 
returned to Spain. 

Eighty thousand of the exiles crossed into Portugal and 
purchased permission to tarry in that kingdom for eight 
months, preparatory to their departure for Africa. King 
John II. even connived at the permanent settlement of 
some of them in the country. But the King's tolerance 
was not shared by his subjects. John had already been 14.81 
beset with complaints of Jewish cavaliers being suffered to 
parade the streets mounted on richly caparisoned horses 
and mules, arrayed in fine cloaks and velvet doublets, and 
dangling gilt swords at their sides. Under his successor 
popular hatred obtained the satisfaction which had 
hitherto been denied to it. King Emanuel, a liberal 
but deeply enamoured prince, was forced to yield to 
the wishes of his superstitious betrothed, — the daughter 
of Ferdinand and Isabella, — who made the banishment 
of the Jews a condition of her acceptance of his suit ; and 
he ordered the hapless people to quit his dominions. 1+95 
But, as though the measure of Israel's woes were not yet 
full, the same King, yielding again to the pressure of love, 
caused all Jewish children of fourteen years of age and 
under to be torn from their parents in order to be kept in 
Portugal, and be reared in the Catholic faith. The scenes 
of agony which followed this diabolical edict would be 


revolting beyond endurance, but for their occurrence 
directly after the autos-da-fe. Many Jewish mothers, 
mad with grief and despair, slew their darlings with 
their own hands and then destroyed themselves. A con- 
temporary writer concludes his description of these ghastly 
events with the characteristic comment : c£ It was a great 
mistake in King Emanuel to think of converting to 
Christianity any Jew old enough to pronounce the name 
of Moses." In the writer's opinion the age limit ought 
to have been three years. 

Many Jews, afraid to face the perils of the unknown, 
shielded themselves from the storm under the cloak of 
conversion, and either remained in Portugal or returned 
to Spain to join the pseudo-converts left there, and for 
ages after supplied the hounds of the Inquisition with 
a healthy occupation. The State, of course, aided the 
Church in her lethal work ; for dissent in religion is close 
akin to dissent in politics, and domestic discord is incom- 
patible with vigorous expansion abroad. 

1498 Meanwhile Torquemada's successor, Deza, surpassed 
the great Inquisitor in ferocity and energy. One of his 
confederates, called Lucero, was nicknamed even by his 
own associates Tenebrero, on account of the darkness 
and cruelty of his temper, which drove the people 

1 506 of Cordova to revolt. Immediately after Cardinal Ximenes 
became Grand Inquisitor, and, with his predecessor's fate 
before his eyes, proved less savage. But what the 
Inquisition lost in height of iniquity was amply compen- 
sated by the extension of its activity over a new field — 
the vanquished Mohammedans — who were also permitted 
to choose between baptism and banishment; while the 
Morescoes, or Moorish converts, were treated in the 
same manner as the Jewish Marranos. 

There were no fewer than thirty-four tracks by which 
the " foxes " could be run to earth. One of these was 
the eating of bitter herbs and lettuces at the time of 
the Passover. Every Christian was virtually a spy and 
an informer, sometimes unintentionally, more often with 
deliberate eagerness. Pedigrees were strictly examined, 
and those found tainted with Jewish blood were cruelly 


persecuted, or at least treated as social outcasts. Neither 
moral excellence nor even high position in the Church, 
accompanied by sincere devotion, was accepted as an 
expiation for the sin of birth. Detected heretics were 
punished by imprisonment, by exile, by ruinous fines, 
and by fire. And yet the pestilent sect, too clever to be 
convinced by theological reasoning or to betray its want 
of conviction, survived and flourished in secret — a vast 
freemasonry of passive unbelievers spreading its crooked 
subterranean passages in every direction under the very 
foundations of the Holy Office. Neither the penalties 
inflicted by the State, nor the tortures, even more 
terrible, of the Church availed against the treacherous 
tenacity of the eternal people. Persecution, which goads 
the brave to heroism, makes hypocrites of the timid ; and 
these Marranos, compelled to pit their cunning against 
that of the Holy Office, developed all the unlovely 
qualities of those who lead a double life ; who live a 
daily lie. They were forced to be false either to their 
God or to themselves. They chose the latter course. 
They aped their Christian neighbours in demeanour and 
dialect, participated in religious rites and sacraments 
which they abhorred, ate food which nauseated them, 
kissed relics which inspired them with repugnance, and 
sprinkled themselves with holy water which made them 
inwardly feel polluted. But the sad and sordid comedy 
could not always be maintained. The voice of conscience 
occasionally proved too strong even for the instinct of 
self-preservation, and many a Marrano ended a miserable 
life by a noble martyrdom. Again, the power of the 
blood, sometimes in the second or third generation, 
asserted itself, and the child or the grandchild of a 
convert, though he might be a priest or a monk, reverted 
to the faith of his fathers. 

The pseudo-converts of Portugal fared no better. In 
1506 they were massacred, and their women were dis- 
honoured in great numbers at Lisbon and in the open 
country. In the midst of these tribulations they heard 
of David Reubeni, who had arisen in the East to fulfil About 1524. 
the ancient prophecies, and to bring about the ever- 


expected and ever-deferred liberation of Israel. David 
came over to Europe, declaring himself to be the brother 
of a Jewish prince reigning in Arabia, sent to solicit the 
Pope's assistance for a holy war against the Moham- 
medans. Clement VII., a Pontiff too mediocre to excel 
in virtue or in fanaticism, yet an adroit diplomat, received 
the envoy in audience, and treated him with great dis- 
tinction. David was acclaimed by the Roman and other 
Jews with enthusiasm, and was finally invited by the 
King of Portugal to his Court, whither he set sail in a 
ship flying a Jewish flag. At Lisbon David met with 
a magnificent reception on the part of the King and with 
frenetic applause on the part of the Marranos, who saw 
in him the promised Redeemer and the future King of 
Israel. But he was soon after expelled from Portugal, 
owing to the relapse into Judaism of a young Marrano 
visionary, Diogo Pires by name. 

This "new-Christian," excited by David's mission, 
underwent circumcision and received mysterious and 
wonderful messages from heaven. He assumed the 
name of Solomon Molcho and fled to Turkey, where he 
was welcomed with open arms by his co-religionists at 
Salonica and Adrianople, communicated his Cabbalistic 
hallucinations through Eastern and Central Europe, 
153° preached the pleasures of martyrdom, visited Rome, in 
obedience to a divine vision, and made himself supremely 
ridiculous by prophesying multifarious calamities to the 
Eternal City. After an unsuccessful efFort to win over 
the King of Portugal and Charles V., Solomon proceeded 
to Venice in order to secure the favour of that Republic, 
and there he narrowly escaped the effects of a poisoned 
draught administered to him by a brother-Jew. In the 
meantime some of his predictions, strangely enough, had 
come true. Rome was sacked by the Imperial troops and 
devastated by a flood, Lisbon was ruined by earthquakes, 
and a brilliant comet announced the approaching end of 
the world. Thereupon Solomon returned to Rome, 
where the Pope honoured him as a true, if mournful, 
prophet. But, whilst in Rome, he had another narrow 
escape — this time from the claws of the Inquisition — and 


was spirited away by the friendly Pope in the dead of 
night, only to fall into them next year at Mantua. There 1532 
at last the poor self-deluded Messiah was accorded the 
crown of martyrdom which he had so ardently coveted. 
He was burnt alive. Solomon's followers long refused 
to believe that he was dead ; cherishing hopes of his 
miraculous escape and re-appearance. But he was dead 
in earnest. 

David Reubeni was denied even this last honour. The 
Emperor Charles handed him over to the Spanish Holy 
Office, in the vaults of which he languished for three 
years and was finally killed in an obscure manner. An 
uncharitable and uncritical world has branded Solomon as 
a fool and David as a rogue. Nothing fails like failure. 
If an unsuccessful patriot is called an adventurer and an 
unsuccessful financier a swindler, an unsuccessful Messiah 
must submit to be stigmatised as an impostor. 

Not many years afterwards the Inquisition was erected in 
Portugal at the instigation of Ignatius Loyola, and at the 
beginning of the seventeenth century there occurred at 
Lisbon an event which supplied it with a fresh excuse for 
persecution. A Franciscan monk of noble descent, Diogo 
by name, declared that by reading the Bible he came to 
the conclusion that Judaism and not Christianity was the 
true religion. Diogo was thrown into a dungeon; but, 
as he freely confessed his guilt, there seemed to be no 
occasion for torture. However, monks have seldom been 
governed by lay logic. Diogo was put to the rack in 
order to betray his accomplices. After two years of 
torture, varied with theological discussion, he was burnt 1603 
at the stake in the presence of a large concourse of people, 
including the Regent. Diogo's example invigorated the 
courage of the Portuguese crypto-Jews and caused many 
to denounce Christianity openly, regardless of conse- 
quences. Diogo's martyrdom was celebrated by a young 
Jewish poet who, however, escaped the crown which his 
enthusiasm deserved by fleeing to Amsterdam. Another 
young Marrano poet also was induced by Diogo's con- 
stancy to revert to Judaism. This revival of zeal for the 
old faith spurred the Holy Office to greater strenuous- 


ness on its part. At one time one hundred and fifty 
Marranos were arrested, tortured and threatened with 
cremation. The multitude of victims, however, was 
embarrassing to the Government. Moreover the Court 
lay under heavy pecuniary obligations to the Marranos, 
and the latter exerted themselves by might and money to 
procure the release of their brethren. They offered to 
Philip III. not only a gift of the sums due to them but, 
in addition, 1,200,000 cruzados (,£120,000), and they 
also spent 150,000 cruzados among the King's councillors 
in order to convince them of the justice of their cause. 
Philip III. was not deaf to a plea for mercy supported by 
so powerful an array of arguments, and he induced Pope 

1604 Clement VIII. to pardon the prisoners. The Inquisition 
was reluctantly obliged to content itself with the sem- 
blance of an execution. The captives, clad as penitents, 
were led to the auto-da-fe in Lisbon, where they publicly 
expressed a hypocritical contrition for their sin and were 
rewarded with loss of all civic rights. 

1609 Five years later the Morescoes, or Moorish converts, 
were finally expelled by Philip III., while the Marranos 
endured and supplied victims for the grim altar of the 
Holy Office. Granada, Cordova, Lisbon, and other cities 
in both Spain and Portugal continued to be illuminated 
with the funereal flames of the autos-da-fe. As late as 
1652 we find a distinguished Portuguese diplomatist of 
Jewish origin, Emanuel Fernando de Villa-Real, on his 
return from Paris, where he acted as consul of the Portu- 
guese Court, seized, tortured, and burnt at the stake. 
Three years later fifty-seven crypto- Jews were on one day 

1655 sentenced at Cuenca; the majority to corporal punishment 
and loss of property, ten to death by fire. In the same 
year twelve more wretches were roasted in Granada, and 
in 1660 sixty Marranos at Seville were led to the auto- 
da-fe^ where four of them were strangled and burnt, and 
three burnt alive, while the effigies of those who had fled 
were solemnly cremated. Amongst the latter was the 
picture of Antonio Enriquez de Gomez, the popular 
soldier and dramatist, contemporary, of Calderon, and 
author of twenty-two comedies which earned great 


applause in Madrid. The original of the picture had 
fortunately escaped to France, where he died five years 
after at the age of sixty. 

Another large contingent of Spanish emigrants repaired 
to the ports of Santa Maria and Cadiz, and was conveyed 
by a Spanish fleet to the Barbary coast. They landed at 
Ercilla, a Christian colony, on their way to Morocco. 
But, long before they reached their destination, the desert 
tribes attacked them, plucked them of the little money 
which they had contrived to conceal on their persons 
before leaving Spain, massacred many of the men, violated 
many of the women ; and the survivors, after untold hard- 
ships, and almost starving, retraced their steps to Ercilla 
and sought repose in baptism. 

Many Spanish Jews found refuge in Turkey. Bayezid 
II., on hearing of their expulsion from Spain, is said to 
have exclaimed : " Do they call this Ferdinand a politic 
prince, who thus impoverishes his own kingdom and 
enriches ours ? " The Turkish monarch's speech may be 
apocryphal. It sounds far too modern and occidental for 
a Turk of the fifteenth century. Bayezid was probably 
swayed by religious rather than by economic considera- 
tions. The Jews are regarded by the Mohammedans as a 
"People of the Book," and they have much more in 
common with them than with the Christians. Both sects 
believe in one only God, and reject the doctrine of the 
Trinity as polytheistic ; they both practise circumcision ; 
they both indulge in ceremonial ablutions and similar 
forms of external symbolism. Hence there has always 
existed a certain degree of sympathy between the 
followers of the Mohammedan and those of the Mosaic 
law. It is also probable that the Sultan was glad to 
emphasise Moslem benevolence by harbouring the victims 
of Christian barbarity. 

But, be the Sultan's motives what they may, his action 
is certain, and highly creditable to his humanity. He 
welcomed the immigrants into his dominions, where they 
throve as long as the Ottoman Empire. In the golden 
age of the Osmanli the Jews of the Levant eclipsed their 
Greek fellow-subjects in wealth and rivalled their Turkish 


masters in display. All the physicians of Constanti- 
i566nople were Jews. A Jew became Duke of Naxos and 
lord of other islands in the Aegean, while another Jew 
1574 was sent as envoy extraordinary to Venice. So great was 
Jewish influence over the Sultans Solyman and Selim II. 
that the Christian ambassadors were compelled to disguise 
their mortification, to court the favour and to solicit the 
mediation of the Jews of Stamboul. Under the circum- 
stances the light of Zion, which had shone so bright 
through the clouds of adversity, was dimmed by the 
glare of prosperity. 

But the harmonic curve of the woes of Israel was 
not to be broken. The Osmanli, who had filled Europe 
with the fame and the terror of their arms a few genera- 
tions before, began to decay as soon as they ceased to 
conquer. An essentially ncmad race, the Turkish found 
a sedentary life pernicious to its vigour. The Sultans 
sank into the soft dissipations of the harem, leaving 
women and eunuchs to rule the Empire and Janissaries 
to defend it. The Jews had reason to lament the decline 
of their lords. The yoke of tyranny began to weigh 
heavily upon their necks. Their opulence attracted the 
rapacity of the Pashas, and their impotence encouraged 
it. Fanaticism followed greed, and the Jews, among 
other forms of oppression to which they were subjected, 
were marked off from the true believers by a black 
turban — a badge which may still be seen in Turkey, 
as a survival of a necessity that exists no longer. 

In that age of darkness and tribulation the hope of 
the Messiah flamed up again. In the middle of the 
seventeenth century the promised Redeemer made his 
appearance among the Turkish Jews in the person of 
Sabbatai Zebi, born at Smyrna in 1626. Sabbatai's 
boyhood was spent in solitude and prayer ; his early 
youth in Cabbalistic mysticism, in self-mortification and 
in a self-denial all the easier because Sabbatai was one 
of those happy, or unhappy, mortals who are born blind 
to the temptations of the flesh and to its joys. His 
strange life and even stranger ideas soon excited atten- 
tion. Some pronounced the young man mad and others 


inspired. He regarded himself as the Messiah, and 
revealed himself as such in the year 1648, which, mystics 
had foretold, was to see the first dawn of the Redemp- 
tion. The Synagogue excommunicated Sabbatai" for his 
presumption. But many believed in the handsome and 
eccentric youth. Sabbata'i's belief in his own Messianic 
mission and the devotion of his disciples were con- 
firmed by persecution. Banished from Smyrna, the 
prophet wandered to Stamboul and Salonica, gaining 
adherents, and he took care that the year 1666, which 
had been fixed as that of the Messianic era, should find 
him in Jerusalem. That city both by virtue of its 
traditions and owing to the condition of its Jewish 
inhabitants — impoverished by extortion and ground down 
by oppression — afforded an environment eminently 
favourable, to miraculous display. Thence Sabbatai 
journeyed forth in triumph to Aleppo, and finally 
returned to his native city, where his new glory made 
the Synagogue forget his earlier condemnation and dis- 
grace. At Smyrna the enthusiasm of Sabbatai' s followers 
reached the height of frenzy. The Messiah's fame and 
the madness of his disciples spread to the furthest corners 
of the earth — Venice, Leghorn, Avignon, Amsterdam, 
London. The Rabbis of Prague and Hamburg were 
suspected by the Orthodox of being secret adherents 
of the Prophet of Smyrna, and excommunicated each 
other as heartily as if they were Christian sectarians. In 
all these centres of Judaism the Kingdom of Heaven 
was believed to have come, the belief being shared by 
Christian Millennarians, and the Western Jews abandoned 
themselves to an extravagance of excitement scarcely 
compatible with elementary sanity. At Hamburg the 
synagogue was converted into a theatre of corybantic 
exaltation, wherein stately Spanish cavaliers and grey- 
bearded men of business might be seen hopping, jumping 
and twirling solemnly about with the scroll of the Law 
in their arms. Not less remarkable was the behaviour 
of believers in the East. In Persia the Jews refused to till 
their fields or to pay tribute, for, they said, the Messiah 
had come. From all these quarters homage and treasure 


poured into the court of Sabbata'i; who now was uni- 
versally hailed as King of Kings, and signed himself, 
or allowed his scribes to do so, " I, the Lord, your God, 
Sabbatai Zebi." 

But the Messiah's reign was brief and his end in- 
glorious. Sabbatai resolved to repair to Constantinople 
that he might proclaim his advent from the very capital of 
the East. He was not unexpected. In the Straits of the 
Dardanelles Turkish officers arrested him, and took him 
fettered to Stamboul. The landing-place was crowded 
with a multitude of believers and others, all eager to 
behold the man who had filled the world with so singular 
an epidemic. Among the latter class of spectators was a 
pasha who welcomed the Redeemer with a vigorous slap 
in the face. The treatment subsequently meted out to 
poor Sabbatai was in harmony with this reception. He 
was thrown into prison, and nothing but the Grand 
Vizier's unwillingness to create a new martyr saved him 
from death. Finally he was summoned before the Sultan. 
After a short audience, the Messiah issued forth from the 
Padishah's presence a turbaned Mohammedan, and his 
name was Mehmed Effendi. 

But even this catastrophe failed to break the spell which 
Sabbatai's personality had cast over the minds of men. 
The masses clung to the hope which he had raised for 
ages after his death. Some of his adherents, including his 
wife, imitated his example and embraced Islam. The sect 
of these Hebrew Mohammedans, under the name of 
Dunmehs, or Converts, still endures at Salonica and other 
cities of the Ottoman Empire, and among them the belief 
prevails that Sabbatai is not really dead. They form a 
body apart, knit together by ties of consanguinity, detested 
by their former brethren in the faith as a sect of 
apostates and suspected by their new brethren as a sect 
of hypocrites. 

The further decay of the Ottoman Empire, which 

brought humiliation to the conquerors and kindled the 

desire for national rehabilitation among their Christian 

subjects, however, brought peace and commercial pros- 

i7perity to the Jews. Lady Mary Wortley Montague, in 


her account of the policy and the manners of the Turks 
in the eighteenth century, gives a glowing description of 
the Jewish colony of Adrianople. 

" I observed," she says, " that most of the rich trades- 
people are Jews. That people are in incredible power in 
this country. They have many privileges above all the 
natural Turks themselves, and have formed a very 
comfortable commonwealth here, being judged by their 
own laws. They have drawn the whole trade of the 
empire into their hands, partly by the firm union amongst 
themselves, partly by the idle temper and want of industry 
of the Turk. Every Bassa has his Jew, who is his homme 
cT affaires; he is let into all his secrets and does all his 
business. No bargain is made, no bribes received, no 
merchandizes disposed of, but what passes through his 
hands. They are the physicians, the stewards, and the 
interpreters of all the great men. You may judge how 
advantageous this is to a people who never fail to make 
use of the smallest advantages. They have found the 
secret of making themselves so necessary that they are 
certain of the protection of the Court whatever Ministry 
is in power. Even the English, French, and Italian 
merchants, who are sensible of their artifices, are, however, 
forced to trust their affairs to their negotiation, nothing of 
trade being managed without them, and the meanest 
among them being too important to be disobliged, since 
the whole body take care of his interests with as much 
vigour as they would those of the most considerable of 
their members. They are, many of them, vastly rich." 
At the present moment the Jews, thanks to the 
profound incompetence and sloth of the Turks, the 
unpopularity, disunion and unrest of the Christian 
rayahs^ and their own superior ability and concord, 
thrive in many parts of the Sultan's dominions, still 
preserving the speech of their Spanish persecutors. 

A few of the refugees from Spain found their way into 
France and England, while some of those who were 
subsequently persecuted in Portugal drifted to Holland. 
But a large number of Spanish Jews set sail for Italy. 



While Popes and Emperors waged a fierce warfare against 
each other for the heritage of the Roman Caesars, the 
democratic spirit of the Italian people grew in safe 
obscurity, deriving fresh vitality from the feud between 
those two great enemies of freedom. The Emperor's 
defeat saved Italy from political servitude, and the Pope's 
victory came too late to endanger intellectual liberty. 
The people who claimed the right to act as they pleased 
were a fortiori ready to vindicate their right to think what 
they pleased. Thus free thought, which was stunted by the 
Popes of Rome in the far-off lands of the North, flourished 
under the very shadow of St. Peter's throne. It was 
natural that it should be so. They who sit nearest the 
stage are least liable to be duped by scenic devices. The 
Italians were too near the Holy See to be impressed by 
its tricks or to be terrified by its theatrical thunder. They 
had seen Gregory VII. as an illiterate Tuscan lad playing 
in his father's workshop, and they had known Innocent 
III. as plain Signor Lothario, son of the Count of Segni. 
No one is a demigod to his own parishioners. 

Hence the lofty pretensions of the Popes were nowhere 
less respected than in their immediate neighbourhood. 
The spiritual autocrats, whose anathemas made foreign 
princes and peoples tremble with superstitious terror, 
found many severe critics among their own countrymen. 
The Italian chronicler Salimbene (i 221-12 8 8), though 
himself a monk, in his vivid and varied picture of 
thirteenth century life, does not hesitate to comment 
freely on the greed, profligacy, gluttony, heresy and 


other sins of many a contemporary pope, cardinal and 
bishop. Even more significant is the attitude of the 
author of the Divina Commedia. There the judges are 
judged, and they who doomed others to everlasting 
torture are themselves consigned to a similar fate 
by the stern Florentine poet, the spokesman of the 
Middle Ages. Celestine V., who, yielding to base fear, 
abdicated St. Peter's chair in 1294, is sentenced by Dante 
to wander in hell naked, his face bedewed with blood and 
tears, and beset by wasps and hornets ; one of the dolorous 
tribe of trimmers — " Wretches who never lived " ; sinners 
whose very disembodied shades are " both to God dis- 
pleasing and to His foes." 1 Pope Anastasius is condemned 
to an even worse plight, as a heretic. Nicholas III. is 
found planted with his heels upwards, waiting to be 
succeeded in that uncomfortable position by Boniface VIII. , 
" the chief of the new Pharisees," who, in his turn, is to 
be followed by Clement V., "the lawless pastor," who, 
besides many other sins of omission and commission, 
abetted Philip the Fair in the suppression of the Templars, 
and with him divided the guilt, if he were defrauded of 
the fruits, of the atrocious crime. To an equally sad 
eternity are doomed popes and cardinals " over whom 
Avarice dominion absolute maintains"; the monks of 
Cologne; and the "Joyous Friars" {Frati Godenti), 
notorious for things worse than joyousness. 

Nor did the great religious upheavals of the Middle 
Ages which helped to tighten the Papal grip on the 
European mind produce any injurious effects in Italy. 
Far otherwise. The most serious of those movements, 
the Crusades, proved of signal benefit to the Italian 
republics. The campaigns that drained other countries of 
men and money, opened new sources of profit and power 

1 As a matter of fact, Celestine V. hardly deserves this sentence. It 
was not cowardice but native humility, the consciousness of the tempta- 
tions of power, physical weakness, and the hermit's longing for tranquillity 
that impelled the Pope to resign after five months and eight days' 
pontificate. Commentators had hitherto agreed in applying the above 
passage to Celestine V., but recent opinion rejects the traditional 
interpretation. However that may be, the point which concerns us is that 
Dante censures a pope. 


to Venice and Genoa, Florence, Milan and Pisa ; they 
invigorated their maritime trade, and increased their 
knowledge of foreign lands. While the kings and 
knights of Northern and Central Europe dreamed 
dreams of military glory, of victory for the Cross, 
and of conquest for themselves, the commonwealths 
of Italy realised the more solid, if less splendid, boons 
of extensive commerce, and even more extensive credit. 
When Bayezid, surnamed the Lightning, towards the 
end of the fourteenth century, threatened to carry war 
into the heart of holy Christendom and boasted that 
his horse should eat his oats on the altar of St. Peter 
at Rome, it was not the Romans who resented the 
impious insolence of the infidel. Nor were they moved 
when the King of Hungary, Sigismund, panic-stricken, 
sent a bishop and two knights with letters to King 
Charles VI. of France, the eldest son of the Church, 
imploring him to ward off the evils that menaced it. 
The Italians saw with calm unconcern the young Count 
de Nevers, heir of the Duke of Burgundy, and cousin of 
the French monarch, accompanied by four other princes, 
lead his brilliant host of knights and squires against the 
" enemies of God." It was the villeins of Burgundy and 
the burgesses of Flanders who paid the expenses of the 
ruinous campaign undertaken to save Rome from the 
Turk. And if the honest, but credulous, Froissart is to 
be believed, the Italians, so far from sympathizing with 
the aim of the expedition, actually assisted the infidels by 
information and advice. Bayezid, on hearing that the 
Christian forces had crossed the Danube, is reported 
by the Chronicler to have said: " My wishes are now 
accomplished. It is now four months since I heard of the 
expedition from my good friend the Duke of Milan, who 
advised me to draw up my men with prudence." 
1396 Furthermore, when the champions of the Cross met 

Sept. 28 those of the Crescent on the fatal field of Nicopolis, and 
left upon it the flower of their chivalry, the Italians were 
the only people who had no reason to mourn the disaster. 
All useless prisoners were put to death ;. but the young 
Count de Nevers, and a score other princes and barons of 


France, were held by Bayezid to ransom. After a long 
and painful captivity the survivors obtained their liberty 
for 200,000 florins. But, while this immense sum and 
the costs of the negotiations and embassies, as well as the 
means for the prisoners' return home in a manner befitting 
their high estate, were laboriously raised by extraordinary 
taxes levied by the Duke of Burgundy upon all towns 
under his obedience, and more especially upon those 
of Flanders — Ghent, Bruges, Mechlin, and Antwerp — the 
merchants of Genoa showed their enterprising genius, no 
less than their prosperity, by giving prompt security to the 
Sultan for five times the amount stipulated. Lastly, when 
the French lords, on their arrival at Venice, found them- 
selves hardly able to defray the expenses of their sojourn 
in " one of the dearest towns in the world for strangers," 
as Sir John sensibly observes, they met with scant courtesy 
at the hands of the Venetians. The King of Hungary, 
though the revenues of his realm were " ruined for this 
and the ensuing year," volunteered to assist the princes by 
" offering for sale to the rulers of Venice the rents he 
received from that town, which amounted to 7000 ducats 
yearly " ; but the Venetians, on hearing of the proposal, 
" coldly replied that they would consider the matter," and 
after a fortnight's consideration answered, " as I was told 
by one who heard it," that " if the King of Hungary was 
disposed to sell his whole kingdom, the Venetians would 
willingly make the purchase, and pay the money down ; 
but as for such a trifle as 7000 ducats of yearly revenue, 
which he possessed in the city of Venice, it was of so little 
value that they could not set a price on it either to buy or 
sell, and that they would not trouble themselves about so 
small an object." 

The narrative brings into vivid, if somewhat unpleasant, 
prominence the contrast between the Italians and their 
neighbours over the Alps : their wealth, their pride, their 
eagerness to draw profit from other people's enthusiasms, 
and their utter want of interest in the questions which 
agitated so deeply the rest of mediaeval Christendom. 
The sons of Italy were too much engrossed in the affairs 
of this world to make any sacrifices to the next. Already 


sensuous bliss was all the bliss they knew or cared for. 
Undistracted by celestial chimeras, they would gladly have 
exchanged all the dreams of eternity for one day's enjoy- 
ment of earthly realities. But, if their worldly prosperity 
and their practical wisdom made the Italians selfish, they 
also made them tolerant. To them the prejudice of 
feudalism was as unprofitable as its idealism. 

The Jews reaped the fruit of Italian tolerance. By one 
of those wonderful paradoxes with which history loves to 
surprise the student, the people that had crucified Christ, 
the people that was held guilty of the sufferings of His 
disciples at the hands of the Pagans, the people that was 
execrated as a perpetual source of heresy, had from the 
first dwelt and prospered in the very city which had 
witnessed the most terrible of those sufferings, and 
which had early claimed to be revered as the capital 
of Christendom and the Supreme Court of orthodoxy. 
While their brethren in France, Germany, and England 
underwent martyrdom, the Jews of Rome enjoyed 
comparative, if not uninterrupted, peace. The fury 
of the Crusades, which stained the waters of the Rhine 
and the Moselle with Hebrew blood, found no parallel 
on the banks of the Tiber. The calumnies which stirred 
up a tempest against the Jews in Norwich, aroused no 
responsive echo in Rome. The Bulls which doomed 
the " accursed people " to persecution in those distant 
realms remained unheeded in the very place where they 
were framed and signed. The Popes, who denounced 
and proscribed the " unclean and perfidious race " abroad, 
with few exceptions, cherished, protected, and trusted 
individual members of it at home. 

Pope Alexander III., the great antagonist of the 
German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and of Henry II. 
of England, had a Jewish Minister of Finance, or 
treasurer of the household, and on his return to Rome, 
1 1 62-1 165 after his voluntary exile in France, he was met by a 
jubilant procession of Jewish Rabbis. The Roman Jews 
were not subject to any special tax, nor was their evidence 
against Christians considered invalid. Even greater was 
the liberty enjoyed by the Jews of Southern Italy and 


Sicily, where they chiefly abounded. The Norman Kings 

confirmed to them the ancient privilege of trial according 

to their own laws. In Sicily, under Frederick II., there 1 198-1250 

were Jewish administrators and Jewish landowners. A 

favourite minister of King Roger of Sicily frequented the 

Jewish synagogues and contributed to the expenses of the 

Jewish community. Broadly speaking, until the end of 

the fifteenth century, such ill-feeling as existed towards 

the Jews in Italy proceeded entirely from their own 

aloofness and eccentricity, and was in no way fostered 

by priests or pontiffs. Nothing is more eloquent of 

the general prosperity of the Italian Jews in those 

days than the silence of history concerning any religious 

activity amongst them. 

Besides the absence of ecclesiastical fanaticism, there 
were other reasons to account for the Jew's normal 
immunity from persecution in mediaeval Italy. The 
Italians had no cause to envy the Jew his commercial 
success. In Italy the sons of Israel found keen com- 
petitors in the native Christians. The financial genius of 
the Florentine and the Venetian was more than a match 
for that of the Jew. The Italians, therefore, did not 
exclude the Jews from their municipal and industrial 
organizations, but, by making the entrance to their Guilds 
less difficult for non-Christians, enabled the latter to 
engage in various trades elsewhere closed to them. Nor 
was the Holy See strong enough to ban usury in Italy 
and to fan the superstitious antipathy towards money- 
lenders as it did in other countries. Among the Italians 
the interests of the market counted for more than the 
interests of the Church, and canonical prohibitions were 
easily set at naught for the sake of convenience. 
Furthermore, the division of the peninsula into a number 
of States politically sundered, and often hostile to each 
other, but geographically connected, enabled the Jews to 
seek refuge in one place from persecution in another, and 
as soon as the tempest was over to return to their homes. 

For all these reasons we find the relations between 
Jews and Christians in Italy more cordial than in any 
other part of mediaeval Europe. The foreign origin and 


foreign connections of the Jew, far from being a source of 
prejudice, proved an attraction to the educated Italian. 
It is easy to imagine those old schoolmen, with their 
alert curiosity and unquenchable thirst for knowledge — in 
an age when books were rare, travel perilous, and all that 
was distant in space or time a desert, dimly known or 
utterly unknown — eagerly seizing at every chance of 
enlarging their mental horizon and of enriching their 
intellectual stores. A chance of this kind offered itself in 
the Jewish Rabbis, physicians, and scholars, and the 
Italians did not neglect it. Friendships between learned 
Hebrews and Christian divines were not uncommon. 1 In 
the tenth century we hear of a Jewish doctor Donnolo 
being on intimate terms with the Lord Abbot Nilus. 
One of the fruits of such friendships was the indirect 
transmission to the West of a few rays of Hellenic light 
long before the dawn of the Renaissance, through trans- 
lations of the Arabic versions of the Greek classics into 
Hebrew, and from Hebrew into Latin. The most 
illustrious of these literary connections between followers 
of the new and the old Hebrew prophet was the tender 
affection which, towards the end of the thirteenth century, 
bound Immanuel, " the Heine of the Middle Ages," with 
Dante, the poet of old Catholicism, and the embodiment 
of all that was true and pure and truly noble in mediaeval 
Christianity. The two friends must have formed a pair 
of extraordinary incongruity. Dante, grand, stern, and 
sombre, couching the gloomiest conceptions in the light 
and graceful language of Italy ; Immanuel, witty and 
caustic, venting his frolicsome sarcasms in the solemn 
tongue of the Hebrew prophets. The contrast is brought 
home to us with almost deliberate vividness by the works 
of the two friends. They both wrote visits to the land 
of the dead. Dante's is a tragedy ; Immanuel's a satirical 
comedy — almost a parody. But in one respect the Jew 
shows himself superior to the Christian. His paradise 
includes the great shades of the pagan world. 

1 See Berliner, Personliche Beziekungen zvuischen Christen und Juden. 
Reference should also be made to the same author's Geschichte der 
Juden in Rom. 


And yet it would be an error to imagine that the Jew, 
even in those halcyon days of Italian freedom, was wholly 
exempt from the penalty which pursues dissent. What- 
ever the feelings of the cultured and the thoughtful might 
be, to the populace of Italy the Jew was a pestilent 
heretic. As early as 1016 we hear of a massacre of the 
Jews in Rome owing to an earthquake which wrought 
great havoc in the city. The calamity occurred on Good 
Friday, and it was ascertained that at the time of its 
occurrence the Jews were worshipping in their synagogue. 
A coincidence to the mediaeval mind was tantamount to 
conclusive proof of cause and effect. The Roman rabble, 
under the influence of panic and superstition, wreaked a 
terrible vengeance on the supposed authors of the mis- 
fortune, and Pope Benedict VIII. sanctioned a crime 
which he was probably unable to prevent. Innocent III. 
proved his consistency by oppressing the " enemies of 
Christ" in Italy as scrupulously as elsewhere, and the 
Jews were also expelled from Bologna in 1 171. In 1278 
— when Dante was a precocious youth of twelve years of 
age, already devoted to his mystic adoration of Beatrice ; 
when Thomas Aquinas, the tolerant of Judaism, had been 
dead only four years ; and two years after the birth of the 
great painter Giotto, to whom we owe the one portrait of 
Dante that has escaped the deluge of the centuries — at 
that period at which the rosy morn of the Renaissance 
was faintly gilding the eastern firmament, we find the 
Jews compelled to attend Christian services and to 
submit to sermons preached against their own religion. 
But, with few exceptions, no bloody persecution soiled 
the canvas of Italian history. In the ensuing century 
synagogues, plain, gaunt, and ungainly, might still be 
seen in close proximity to gorgeous Christian churches 
in Rome, and the congregations which thronged the latter 
on Sundays had not yet discovered that it was their 
duty to punish their neighbours for worshipping their 
god on Saturday. But the discovery was not far 

In 1 32 1 the Jews of Rome were charged with insulting 
the crucifix as it was carried through the streets in a 


procession. The accuser is said to have been a sister 
of John XXII. , a pope among whose principal claims 
to distinction love of gold ranked high. Several priests 
corroborated the charge, and the Pope decided to drive 
the Jews out of the Roman state. The details of the 
occurrence are uncertain ; but the reality of the danger 
to which the Jews found themselves exposed is proved 
by the extraordinary fast instituted that year. While 
fervent prayers were offered up in the synagogues, 
messengers were despatched to the Pope at Avignon 
and to King Robert of Naples, his patron, who also was 
a great friend of the Jews, imploring that the decision 
might be cancelled. King Robert pleaded their cause 
successfully, for, it is said, his eloquence was supported 
by twenty thousand ducats presented by the Roman Jews 
to the Pope's sister. 

In the middle of the same century we find the Jews of 
Rome obliged to contribute towards the expenses of the 
popular amusements in the Roman circus — a form of 
entertainment which was an abomination unto the Lord 
of the Jews — 12 gold pieces a year ; a small matter in 
itself, yet indicative of the direction in which the current 
flowed. But a new power came to stem for a while this 

We are in the heart of the fourteenth century. Dante 
died in 132 1, and his obsequies were sumptuously per- 
formed at Ravenna. The tomb which closed over Dante's 
remains on that July day received more than the spokes- 
man of Mediaeval Faith. In it was buried Mediaeval 
Faith itself. Catholicism, and all that it had meant to 
Dante, was already a thing of the past. " One Church 
and one Empire for all men," the idols of the Middle 
Age, were to be deposed by the ideal of " A Church and 
an Empire for each race of men," gradually to develop 
into " No Church and no Empire for any man." The 
last of the Catholics was carried to his grave, as the first 
of the Humanists appears on the scene. Dante's censures 
of popes and cardinals were the rebukes of a brother ; 
Petrarch's denunciations are the assaults of an enemy. 
Dante, while condemning individual churchmen, sincerely 


reveres the Church which their malpractices disgraced. 
To him the Papal Court may be a home of hypocrisy, 
a nursery of shame, a cradle of crime, and he will have 
nothing to do with it ; but that does not lead him to 
question the spiritual authority of that Court. His hero 
still is Gregory Hildebrand, della fede cristiana il santo 
atleta — the saintly athlete of the Christian Faith. 1 To 
Petrarch the Papal Court is all that and more. It is 
the mother of human slavery and the fount of human 
misery — a "Western Babylon," as he calls it in one of 
his sonnets. It fills him with unutterable abhorrence. 
Petrarch died in 1374, but the new spirit of which 
he was the exponent did not die with him. It was 
transmitted to his disciple Boccaccio, in whose hands the 
keen weapon of indignation was replaced by the keener 
one of ridicule. Boccaccio's popular tales spread the 
infamy of the monasteries and nunneries, and the hatred 
towards their inmates, far and wide. Henceforth con- 
tempt shall be the portion of the Church which had 
inspired his predecessors with mere horror. Poggio, 
Pulci, Franco, and others followed in the footsteps of 
the master, and though they could not rival Boccaccio in 
wit, they surpassed him in virulence. 

The real importance of these attacks lies in the circum- 
stance that they were levelled not at persons but at 
institutions. The warfare was not waged so much against 
the body as against the soul of Catholicism. It is true 
that Italian Christianity had very early divested itself of 
some of the Oriental austerity of the cult, and that great 
part of its original colour had been toned down, or 
touched up, in accordance with Occidental taste. After 
twelve centuries of Roman practice very little, indeed, 
was left of the gospel preached on the shores of the Sea 
of Galilee. The self-sacrifice of the prophet had been 
replaced by the self-indulgence of the priest, the simplicity 
and humility of the saint by the purple splendour of the 
ecclesiastical prince, and the spirit of the Word had long 
been stifled beneath the mummeries and pageants of 
Roman ritual. But still there remained more than the 

1 Paradiso, xii. 


Latin temperament, under the influence of the pagan 
revival, could bear with equanimity. The young Italian 
mind had had enough of the creed of abstinence, renun- 
ciation, and sacrifice ; it panted for enjoyment. The 
litanies and the agonies of the Church repelled it ; her 
self-mortifications and self-mystifications revolted it. The 
classic love for form was to oust again the Christian 
veneration for the spirit. Virgil ceased to be regarded 
as a heathen prophet of Christianity. Scholars ceased to 
scan his pages for predictions of the advent of Jesus, and 
began to revel in the charm of his paganism. In a former 
generation Dante had found in the poet of Mantua a 
ghostly guide to the Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven of 
Catholicism ; the new school saw in him a mellifluous 
minstrel of sensuous joys : a singer of the beauty of flocks 
and flowers, of the humming bees, of the trilling birds, of 
the murmuring rivulets, of the loves of shepherds and 
shepherdesses. The muse of Theocritus had risen from 
her enchanted sleep of a thousand years and brought 
back with her the sanity and the light that were to banish 
the phantoms and the mists of the mediaeval hell. Italy 
celebrated the resurrection of Pan. 

Self-abasement was superseded by self-reverence; 
and abstinence by temperance. The dignity of the 
individual, long lost in the mediaeval worship of 
authority, was restored; the glorification of man suc- 
ceeded to the glorification of the Kingdom of God on 
earth. The beauty of the naked human body was once 
more recognised and its cult revived. Fecundity and not 
chastity became the ideal virtue. And what the poets 
described in warm, impassioned melody, the artists of 
a later day depicted in no less warm and impassioned 
colour. Dante's ethereal love for Beatrice would have 
been shocked at Raphael's Madonna: Madonna the 
mother; no longer Madonna the maiden. 

Nor was the new cult confined to profane poets, 
artists, and scholars. The divines of the Roman Church 
were also carried away by it. Rationalism invaded the 
Vatican, was petted by the priests, and promulgated from 
the pulpit. In sermons preached before the Pope and his 


cardinals the dogmas of Christianity were blended with 
the doctrines of ancient philosophy, and Hebrew theology 
was identified with heathen mythology. Christ's self- 
sacrifice was compared to that of Socrates and of other 
great and good men of antiquity who had laid down their 
lives for the sake of truth and the benefit of mankind. 
Pontifical documents were couched in pagan phraseology; 
the Father and the Son appeared as Jupiter and Apollo; 
and the Holy Virgin as Diana, or even as Venus with 
the child Cupid ; while sacred hymns were solemnly 
addressed by pious Catholics to the deities of Olympus. 
These and other vagaries were seriously indulged in, 
after a fashion abundantly grotesque, but none the less 
instructive. When pruned of its absurd extravagances 
and picturesque ineptitudes, this enthusiasm for paganism 
can be regarded both as the fruit and as the cause of an 
essentially healthy growth. The Italians of the fifteenth 
century succeeded where Julian the Apostate had failed 
in the fourth ; and to that success may be traced all the 
subsequent developments of European culture. 

How this revolution came about has been explained at 
great length by historians : how, partly through Petrarch's 
and Boccaccio's influence, the nobles and merchant princes 
of the Italian republics took the new learning under their 
generous patronage ; how young Italian pupils repaired to 
Constantinople to study the language and literature of 
ancient Greece at the feet of men to whom that language 
was a living mother tongue; how Greek teachers were 
encouraged to bring their treasures to Italy; how they 
were received by a public as eager to fathom the mysteries 
of Greek grammar as a modern public is to fathom the 
mysteries of a detective story; and how the stream 
gradually swelled into the mighty flood that followed on 
the fall of Constantine's city in 1453. But all this was 
only a period of gestation. Modern Europe was really 
born on the day on which an obscure Dutch chandler 
made known to the world the marvellous invention which 
was to supersede the scribe's pen, and to draw forth the 
torch of knowledge from the monk's cell, and from the 
wealthy merchant's study to the crowds in the street. 


By a coincidence, apparently strange, the century which 
opened the prison-gates of the Christian condemned the 
Jew to a new dungeon. The age of the revival of learn- 
ing and of the printing press is also the age of vigorous 
persecution of Israel in Italy. The compulsory attend- 
ance of Jews at divine service now began to be enforced 
in a manner more rigid at once and more stupid. Officials 
posted at the entrance to the church examined the ears of 
the Jews, lest the inward flow of the truth should be 
stemmed by cottonwool. Other officials, inside the 
church, were charged with the duty of preventing the 
wretched congregation from taking refuge in sleep. A 
Bull of Benedict XIII., issued at Valencia in 141 5, 
decrees that at least three public sermons a year should 
be inflicted on the Jews, and prescribes the arguments 
that are to be employed for their conversion: proofs 
of Christ's Messianic character drawn from the Pro- 
phets and the Talmud, exposure of the errors and 
vanities of the latter book, and demonstration of the fact 
that the destruction of the Temple and the woes of the 
Jews are due to the hardness of their hearts. 

In 1442 Pope Eugenius IV., impelled by the son of an 
apostate Jew, ordained that the Jews of Rome should 
keep their doors and their windows shut during Easter 
Week. By 1443 the modest annual sum of 12 gold 
pieces, originally contributed by the Jews to the sports in 
the Roman circus, had grown to 1130 pieces. Nor were 
the Romans any longer content with the extortion of 
money, but they now insisted on a personal participation 
of the Jews in the detested joys of the arena. The 
descendants of Titus, and of the Romans who gazed 
at the savage spectacle of Jewish captives torn to pieces 
by wild beasts, or forced to kill one another for the 
delectation of the victors, revived the taste of their 
remote ancestors for sportful homicide. The fifteenth- 
century Carnival in Rome opened with a foot-race, which 
was in every respect worthy of its pagan prototype of the 
first century. Eight Jews were compelled to appear semi- 
naked, and, incited by blows and invectives, to cover the 
whole of the long course. Some reached the goal 


exhausted, others dropped dead on the way. On the 
same day the secular and religious chiefs of the Jewish 
community were obliged to walk at the head of the 
procession of Roman Senators across the course, amidst a 
tempest of execration and derision on the part of the 
mob; while the eccentricities of the Jew and the pre- 
judices of the Gentile found similar scope for display upon 
the stage. In the Carnival plays and farces of Rome the 
Jew supplied a stock character that never failed to 
provoke the contemptuous merriment of the audience. 

And yet, even in the middle of the fifteenth century, 
we find the Popes, in defiance of their own decrees, 
employing Jewish physicians. Nor does the lot of the 
Jew appear to have grown unbearable for some time 
after. Sixtus IV., whose intolerance towards the Jews 
of Spain has been recorded in a previous chapter, died 
in 1484, and was succeeded by Innocent VIII., a man of 
many superstitions and many children, but a feeble and 
ineffectual pontiff, the most interesting year of whose 
reign, to us, is the year of his death, 1492. In that year, 
in which the Renaissance reached its zenith, the Jewish 
population of Italy was augmented by the influx of large 
numbers of refugees from Spain. One party of them 
landed at Genoa; and a heart-rending sight they pre- 
sented, according to an eye-witness, as they emerged from 
the hulls of the vessels and staggered on to the quay : a host 
of spectres, haggard with famine and sickness ; men with 
hollow cheeks and deep-sunken eyes ; mothers scarcely 
able to stand, fondling their famished infants in their 
skeleton arms. On that mole the hapless exiles, shivering 
under the blasts of the sea, were allowed to tarry for a 
short time in order to refit their vessels, and to recruit 
themselves for further trials. The law of the Republic 
forbade Jewish travellers to remain longer than three days 
in the country. 

The Genoese monks hastened to make spiritual capital 
out of the wanderers' desolate condition : children, 
starving, were baptized in return for a morsel of bread. 
Those who survived want, illness, and conversion, and 
finally left the mole of Genoa, were doomed to fresh 


distress. Their own co-religionists declined to receive 
them at Rome for fear of competition, and attempted to 
procure a prohibition of entry from Innocent's successor 
by a bribe of one thousand ducats. The Pope, how- 
ever, though not remarkable for tenderness of heart, was 
so shocked at the supreme barbarity of the exiles' 
brethren that he issued a decree banishing the latter 
from the city. The Roman Jews, in order to obtain 
the repeal of the edict, were obliged to pay two 
thousand ducats, and to receive the refugees into the 

Another contingent reached Naples under equally 
ghastly conditions. Their voyage from Spain had been 
a long martyrdom. A great many, especially the young 
and the delicately reared, had succumbed to hunger and 
to the foul atmosphere of the narrow and overcrowded 
vessels. Others had been murdered by the masters of the 
ships for the sake of their property, or were forced to sell 
their children in order to defray the expenses of the 
passage. Those who escaped the terrors of the sea, and 
reached the two harbours mentioned, brought with them 
an infectious disease, derived from the privations which 
they had endured. The infection lurked in Genoa and 
Naples through the winter; but when Spring came, it 
burst forth into a frightful plague, which spread with 
terrible rapidity, swept off upwards of twenty thousand 
souls in the latter city in one year, and then extended its 
wasting arms over the whole of the peninsula. 

There can be little doubt that the people, who had else- 
where been made the scapegoats for epidemics with the 
origin of which they had nothing to do, would have been 
subjected to severe persecution for a visitation which 
could certainly be traced to their agency. But it so 
happened that the attention of the Italians was this 
year, and for many years after, absorbed by other 

On Innocent's death, Alexander VI. had been raised to 
St. Peter's throne, which he strengthened by his own poli- 
tical genius, adorned by his magnificent liberality to the 
artistic genius of others, and disgraced by his monstrous 


depravity. Under iUexander's reign Italy witnessed the 
invasion of Charles VIII. of France, an event which H9+ 
inaugurated a period of turmoil, and turned the country 
into a battle-ground for foreign princes. Rome alone 
escaped the consequences of this deluge. The Pope, 
alarmed at the king's approach, offered terms of peace, 
which the French monarch finally accepted. Independ- 
ence was secured at the cost of dignity, and Alexander 
VI. was enabled to steer safely amid the storms that 
raged over the rest of the peninsula. He died in 
1503, regretted by a few, execrated by most of his 
contemporaries. Pius III. reigned for a few months, 
and was, in his turn, succeeded by Julius II., who 
proved himself one of the most energetic, warlike, 
and worldly statesmen that had ever wielded St. 
Peter's sceptre. He died in 1513, and in his stead 
was elected Giovanni de Medici, under the name of 
Leo X. Born in 1475, a vear a fter Ariosto, Giovanni 
was the second son of Lorenzo de Medici, chief of the 
Italian Platonists of the time. In his father's house and 
among his father's friends young Giovanni heard a great 
deal more of Pagan poetry and philosophy than of Chris- 
tian theology. But while his contemporary, Ariosto, 
nourished in a similar school of thought, denounced the 
rapacity of the Roman Court and derided the papal 
pretensions to temporal power — laughingly dismissing 
the fabled gift of Constantine the Great to Pope Sil- 
vester to the realms of the moon — Giovanni devoted 
his life to the service of a Church whose doctrines he 
did not believe, and to her defence against heresies 
which he did not detest. His pontificate, accordingly, 
was distinguished by the elegant frivolities of a cultured 
gentleman far more than by the piety of a clergyman. 
Leo's artistic taste and genial sense of the ludicrous were 
among his chief virtues ; his love of the chase his greatest 
vice. Abstemious in his own diet, he delighted in pro- 
viding for, and laughing at, the gluttony of others. But 
Leo's principal title to the grateful remembrance of 
posterity lies in his munificent encouragement of art and 
letters. He died in 1521. 


Most of these pontiffs, refined, intelligent, and irre- 
ligious, in fighting the reformers fought enemies to their 
own power, not the enemies of Christ. While opposing 
the spirit of rebellion which the licentiousness of some of 
them had brought into existence and the literary culture of 
others to maturity, they seem to have ignored the eternal 
heretics, the Jews. Under their rule Israel enjoyed one 
of those Sabbaths of rest which invariably preceded a new 
reign of terror. When an academic feud rent the learned 
world of the University of Padua into two factions, instead 
of the philosophical question under dispute being, after the 
fashion of the times, settled at the point of the rapier, it 
was submitted to the arbitration of a Jew, the great scholar 
Elias del Medigo. This worthy, vested in the profes- 
sorial robes, addressed the students of Padua and Florence, 
and his decision was accepted as final. Lastly, the gulf 
between Jew and Gentile in Italy was bridged by a 
common philosophical faith. 

The Italians of the period, in their eager search after truth, 
often strayed into strange paths. Many of them, weary 
of groping their way amid the darkness of the scholastic 
wilderness, rashly ran after any will-of-the-wisp that held 
out the promise of light and rest. Among these aberra- 
tions from commonsense was the rage for the Hebrew 
mysticism of the Cabbala, which found many susceptible 
disciples among the literati of Padua and Florence, and 
led to close and cordial relations between representatives 
of the two creeds. The omniscient youth Count Gio- 
vanni Pico de Mirandola, who had been initiated into the 
mysteries of the Cabbala by a Jew, maintained that these 
mysteries yielded the most effective proof of the divinity 
of Christ, and, what is more remarkable still, he had even 
converted Pope Sixtus IV. to his way of thinking. Pico 
de Mirandola placarded Rome with a list of nine hundred 
theses, and invited all European scholars to come to the 
city at his own expense that they might be convinced of 
the infallibility of the Cabbala, while the Pope took great 
pains to have the Cabbalistic writings translated into Latin 
for the enlightenment of divinity students. Innocent 
VIII. was far too old-fashioned to favour new absurdities ; 


and, while he persecuted witches and magicians in 
Germany and preached abortive crusades against the 
heretics of the West and the infidels of the East, he 
prohibited the reading of Pico's nonsense. But the craze 
seized Leo X. and the early Reformers, and not only theo- 
logians but also men of affairs and men of war fell 
captives to it. Statesmen and soldiers devoted them- 
selves to the study of Hebrew, in the pathetic belief 
that they had at last secured the magic key to universal 

Contrariwise, many Hebrew Cabbalists, filling high 
places in the Synagogue, found in these theosophic halluci- 
nations a proof of the divine origin of Christianity and 
openly embraced it. But apart from mysticism, the 
genius of the Renaissance overstepped the iron circle 
of Judaism. The charm of Hellenism which had in old 
times attracted the Jews of Alexandria, once more pre- 
vailed against the Hebrew hatred of Gentile culture. 
Jewish youths gladly attended the Italian universities; 
the philosophy of Aristotle, the elegant Latinity of 
Cicero and the subtle criticism of Quintilian met with 
keen appreciation among them ; and, though painting and 
sculpture continued to be regarded with suspicion, we 
find Italian Rabbis, like their Christian colleagues, draw- 
ing from pagan mythology illustrations for their sermons, 
and even paying, in full synagogue, rhetorical homage to 
"that holy goddess Diana." 

Thus Jew and Gentile were drawn near to each other 
by many intellectual forces. Even theologians succumbed 
to the mollifying influence of the new spirit. Too 
enlightened to persecute, not sufficiently in earnest to 
proselytise, they engaged in friendly and witty arguments 
with the Jews on the matter of their religion. Pope 
Clement VII. even conceived the plan of a Latin trans- 1 523-1 534. 
lation of the Old Testament to be brought about by a 
collaboration of Jewish and Christian scholars. Under 
such illusory auspices was ushered in the century that was 
to open to the Jews the blackest chapter in their black 



Hitherto the life of Israel in Italy had been a life 
chequered by sunlight and shade. Henceforth it is to be 
all shade. The sixteenth century is the century of the 
Ghetto and its foul degradation. The Italian Jews were 
destined to feel the effects of the Catholic reaction, pro- 
voked by the attacks of the Reformers, and although this 
reaction commenced latest, it lasted longest in Italy. 

In 1540 Ignatius Loyola promulgated his gospel of 
obedience, intolerance and intellectual suicide, and the 
doctrine that no deed is unholy or immoral which is done 
in the service of the Catholic Church — than which no 
more startling or sinister doctrine was ever preached to 
the foolish sons of man. At the same time the Inquisi- 
tion, having placed the extermination of the Moors and 
the Jews in Spain on a sound business basis, sought fresh 
employment for its energy and its racks. The experience 
of the older institution, thus united with the ardour of 
the young, presented a combination of forces such as none 
but the most resourceful of heretics could resist. It was 
not long before the Jews of Italy became aware of this 
revival of enthusiasm for the Faith. 
1540 In the very same inauspicious year the Holy Office 
began the persecution of the Marranos of Naples, then 
under Spanish rule. These pseudo-Christians were 
ordered to wear the badge or to leave the country. 
Rightly divining that the badge was only the prelude to 
worse things, they preferred to go into exile. Some of 
them bent their steps to Ancona and Ferrara, but the 
majority set out for Turkey. Many were captured by 


pirates on their voyage and were carried off to Marseilles, 
where the French King Henry II., though otherwise a 
prince of unimpeachably obscurantist leanings, received 
them kindly; but, as he dared not retain them, he 
despatched them to Turkey. Ten years later the 1550 
Dominicans inflamed the Genoese against the small Jewish 
community in the Republic, and the Jews were banished. 
These were but two episodes in the later history of the 
Italian Jews, interesting chiefly as indicative of that 
change of feeling which led to the tragedy of the Ghetto. 

As we have seen, there always was a natural tendency 
for the children of Israel to gravitate towards the same 
point — a habit which originated the Jewries of England, 
the Judenstadt of Germany, the Juderias of Spain and 
the Jewish quarters in most mediaeval countries. But 
we have also seen that, under tolerable conditions, the 
Jews entertained no unconquerable aversion from dwelling 
amidst the Gentiles, and that, when treated as human 
beings, they developed a certain degree of community of 
feeling and interest with their fellow-creatures. Further, 
we have noticed this gradual reconciliation blocked pardy 
by the efforts of the Synagogue, but far more successfully 
by those of the Church ; and we have found in certain 
countries the Jews claiming from the princes who favoured 
and fleeced them segregation as a privilege and as a means 
of self-protection. 

In the time of Pope Gregory VII. the Bishop of 
Speyer, in order to save the Jews from the violence of 
the mob, allotted to them a particular quarter which they 
might fortify and defend. In the middle of the thirteenth 
century King Ferdinand of Castile granted a similar privi- 
lege to the Jews of Seville. In the city of Cologne the 
Jews, a century later, paid an annual fee of twenty marks 
to the officer whose task it was to lock the gates of their 
special quarter at sundown and to unlock them at dawn. 
The feudal lawlessness of the times made such precautions 
necessary not only for the Jews, but for all mortals who 
were not strong enough to secure respect for their persons 
and property ; so much so that the Jews of Prague who 
lived outside the Jewish quarter resolved of their own 


1473 accord to join their brethren in the Judenstadt for greater 
safety. Compulsory concentration of the Jews within 
separate quarters, it is true, was not unknown even in 
those days. Restrictions of this kind seem to have been 
in force in Sicily as early as the fourteenth century, and 
in certain German States even in the thirteenth and 
twelfth centuries, while the " Jewish barrier " of Tudela 
dates from the eleventh century. Such cases, however, 
were sporadic and exceptional. It is in the enlightened 
age with which we are now dealing, and in the most 
enlightened country in Europe, that the isolation of Israel 
begins to be rigidly and universally enforced as a means 
of coercion. The walls of the Jewish quarter are no 
longer a bulwark against attack, but a barrier against 

The name, as well as the institution under its new and 
offensive form, is of Venetian origin. The term is derived 
from the Getto — the old, walled iron-foundry, within the 
precincts of which the first Jewish Ghetto was established 
in the city of St. Mark, in 151 6. The Jews had made 
Venice their home in very early times ; but their colony, 
in its subsequent extent, dates from the beginning of the 
thirteenth century. It was then that Jewish merchants 
from north and east began to pour into the city that was 
to become, partly by their help, the commercial capital of 
Italy. Their relations to the Christian inhabitants were 
neither hostile nor yet hearty. The common people 
detested them, but the Government was consistent in its 
protection of their persons and interests. An incident 
that occurred in the fifteenth century serves to illustrate 
the Jew's position in the Venetian Republic. 

During the Holy Week of 1475 a Christian child was 
drowned at Trent, and its body was caught in a grating 
close to the house of a Jew. The priests immediately 
saw in the accident evidence of ritual murder, and, by 
exhibiting the body in public, they stirred up the populace 
against the supposed murderers. All the Jews of the 
city, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, were 
cast into prison by order of the Bishop. A baptized Jew 
came forth as accuser, and the prisoners, put to the 


torture, confessed that they had slain little Simon and 
drunk his blood on the night of the Passover. A Jewess 
was said to have supplied the weapon for the crime. 
With the exception of four Jews, who embraced Christian- 
ity, the rest were banished from Trent. Cardinal Hadrian, 
writing half a century later, describes the rocks of Trent 
as a place "where the Jews, owing to Simon's murder, 
dare not even approach." 1 

Meanwhile the corpse of the child was embalmed and 
advertised by the monks as a wonder-working relic. 
Thousands of pilgrims repaired to the shrine, and, such 
is the power of faith, swore that they saw the remains 
shining with an unearthly light. The miracle brought 
profit to the monks, and yet they, with as little logic as 
gratitude, denounced those whom they considered its 
proximate cause. The fame, or infamy, of the incident 
spread far and wide. In Great Britain it is believed to 
have given rise to the ballad of the Jew's Daughter ; in 
other countries it gave rise to persecution of the Jews. 
But the Doge and Senate of Venice, on the Jews' com- 
plaining of their danger, ordered the Podesta of Padua 
to take them under his protection, repudiated the charge 
of murder as an impudent fiction, and, when Pope Sixtus 
IV. was besought to add little Simon to the roll of the 
other young martyrs slain by Jews, he not only em- 
phatically refused to do so, but sent an encyclical to all 
the towns of Italy, forbidding them to honour Simon as 
a saint. 

Long after Christian heresy had been condemned by 
Venetian law, and the authority of the Inquisition, under 
certain important limitations, recognised, the Jews were 
suffered to prosper in the Republic. Even the Holy 
Office was not permitted to molest them. Toleration 
was essential to the welfare of the mercantile common- 
wealth, and the statesmen of Venice, in conformity with 
the old Italian tradition, declined to sacrifice the interests 
of the State — the supreme aim of a Government — to 
theological bigotry. Venetian justice in those days might 

1 Prae£ ad Librum de Serm. Lat., quoted by Tyrwhitt in Dr. 
W. W. Skeat's Chaucer, Intr., p. xxiii. 


have chosen for its motto the divine precept given to 
Israel on the eve of its redemption from the house of 
bondage : " One law shall be to him that is home-born 
and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you." 
Venice, accordingly, was the resort and rendezvous of 
foreigners of every race and religion : a city of many 
colours and many tongues ; a humming bee-hive of 
traders and travellers, of scholars and Shylocks, all of 
whom were welcomed so long as they conformed to the 
laws of the land. Among these multifarious elements 
of harmonious confusion none was more conspicuous 
than the Jew. 

Spain, as we have seen, embraced the opposite principle, 
and at the end of the fifteenth century, a great number of 
Jewish refugees from that country joined their brethren in 
Venice, where they were allowed to settle under certain 
conditions agreed to between the Government of the 
Republic and Daniel Rodrigues, the Jewish Consul of 
Venice in Dalmatia. But, as tolerance began to decline, 
the life of the Venetian Jews was made bitter to them by 
a variety of harsh enactments which hampered their move- 
ments and checked their development; such as the law 
that compelled them to reside at Mestre, the law that 
forbade them to keep schools, or teach anything, on 
pain of 50 ducats' fine and six months' imprisonment, and 
numerous other restrictions which culminated in their 
confinement in the Ghetto. 

Meanwhile persecution and the accumulation of suffer- 
ings brought back to life the old Messianic Utopia. 
According to one calculation the Redeemer was expected 
in the year 1503, and the end of the world to come soon 
after the fall of Rome. Cabbalistic mysticism encouraged 
these expectations, and in 1502 a certain Asher, in Istria 
near Venice, assumed the character of Precursor. Like 
John the Baptist, Asher preached repentance and contri- 
tion, promising that the Messiah would appear in six 
months. He gained many devoted disciples both in Italy 
and in Germany, and his predictions called forth much 
fasting and praying and charity, as well as considerable 
exaltation and extravagance. The prophet's sudden death 


brought the dream to an end ; but it revived thirty years 
later among the much-tried Marranos of Spain and 
Portugal. 1 

Despite all disadvantages, however, the Jews of Venice 
were able to hold their own. Their wit, sharpened by 
an oppression not severe enough to blunt it, suggested to 
them various means of evading the statutes, and escaping 
the consequences. Their hatred of the Gentile oppres- 
sors sought its gratification in over-reaching and beating 
them in the race for wealth. Excluded from most other 
provinces of activity, they concentrated all the resources 
of their fertile genius in the acquisition of gold. These 
circumstances were scarcely conducive to cordiality be- 
tween them and the Christians. 

During the war with Turkey all the Levantine mer- 
chants in Venice, most of whom were Jews, were, in 
accordance with the barbarous practice of the times, 
imprisoned, and their goods seized. On the 18th of 
October, 1 571, the popular enthusiasm, excited by the 
news of the Lepanto victory over the Turks, expressed 
itself, among other demonstrations — such as cheering, 
releasing debtors from prison, closing the shops, mutual 
embracing, thanksgiving services, bell-ringing, and the 
like — also in an outcry against the Jews, who, for some 
occult reason, were suddenly accused of being the cause of 
the war. This outcry led to the issue by the Senate of a 
decree of expulsion which, however, was only partially I57 1 Dec - 
carried out, and two years later was revoked through the 
exertions of Jacopo Soranzo, the Venetian Agent at Con- x 573 
stantinople, who explained to the Doge and the Council 
of Ten the harm which the Jewish colonies in Turkey 
were able to do to their Catholic enemies in the West. 

Next year a Jewish diplomatist, Solomon Ashkenazi, x 57+ 
arrived in Venice as Envoy Extraordinary, appointed by 
the Grand Seigneur to conclude peace with the Republic. 
It was not without difficulty that the prejudices of the 
Venetian Government were overcome, and that the Jew 
was received. But, once acknowledged, Solomon was 
treated with the respect due to his ambassadorial character, 

1 See above, p. 1 70. 


and to the power of the Court which he represented. 
The joy of the Venetian Jews at the consideration paid to 
their illustrious co-religionist knew no bounds. 

Rome followed the example of Venice. The Catholic 
reaction against the Reformation brought about a radical 
change in the attitude of the Popes towards their Jewish 
subjects. Humanism was banished from the Vatican, and 
with it the broad spirit of toleration which had secured to 
the Jews of Rome an exceptional prosperity. The ancient 
canonical decrees which had wrought desolation in the 
distant dependencies of the Papacy, but had hitherto been 
allowed to lie dormant in its capital, are now enforced. 
The old outcry against the Talmud, as the source of all 
the sins and obstinacy of the Jews, was once more raised 
by Jewish renegades, and the Court of the Inquisition 

1553 condemned it to the flames. Julius III. signed the decree 

for the destruction of a book which Leo X. had helped 
to disseminate. The houses of the Roman Jews were 
invaded by the myrmidons of the Holy Office, and all 
copies of that and other Hebrew works found therein 
were confiscated and publicly burnt, by a refinement of 
malice, on the Jewish New Year's Day. Similar bonfires 
blazed in Ferrara, Mantua, Venice, Padua, and even in 
the island of Crete. 

1 555-1 5 59 Matters grew worse under the bigoted Pope Paul IV. 
The very first month of his reign was signalised by a Bull 
ordering every synagogue throughout the States of the 
Church to contribute ten ducats for the maintenance of 
the House of Catechumens, in which Jews were to be 
educated in the Christian faith. A few weeks later, a 
second Bull forbade the Jews to employ Christian servants 
or nurses, to own real estate, to practice medicine, to 
trade in anything but old clothes, or to have any inter- 
course with Christians. The synagogues were destroyed, 
except one ; and it was proclaimed that all the Jews who 
were not labouring for the public good should quit Rome 
by a fixed date. The meaning of this mysterious sentence 
became clear to the victims when shortly after they 
were forced to repair the walls of the city. The edict 
of banishment, it is true, was immediately repealed by 


the intervention of Cardinal Fernese ; but the harshness 
of their treatment was in itself sufficient to drive the 
wretched people to exile. Many Jews left Rome, and 1 
those who remained were penned in the Ghetto. 1 

Previous to this date most of the Roman Jews volun- 
tarily dwelt in a special quarter on the left bank of the 
Tiber, known as Seraglio delli Hebrei or Septus Hebraicus ; 
but they were not isolated from the Christians ; for 
many of the latter, even members of the nobility, had 
their luxurious palaces in the midst of the Jewish houses, 
and many a stately Roman church reared its proud Cam- 
panile in the vicinity of a synagogue. All this was now 
altered. The palaces of the Christian nobility and the 
places of Christian worship were removed, or fenced off, 
from the abodes of the unclean, and these were surrounded 
by great grim walls, with porticoes and gates guarded by 
watchmen, who shut them at midnight and opened them 
at early morning, except on the Sabbath and on the 
Lord's Day, or other Christian feasts, when the gates 
remained closed the whole day, so that no infidel could 
go forth and defile the Christian festivities with his 
unhallowed presence. On week days the bell that called 
the faithful to vespers was for the Jew who valued 
his life a signal to retire to his prison. All the inmates 
of this prison, men and women alike, on leaving its 
precincts, were obliged to wear a special garb : the men a 
yellow hat, the women a yellow veil or a large circular 
badge of the same colour on their breast. Thanks to 
this mark of distinction no Jew or Jewess could step or 
stand outside the Ghetto gates without meeting with 
insult and outrage on the part of the mob. The yellow 
badge was the favourite mark for the missiles of the 
street urchins, and for the sneers of their elders ; so that 
the prison often became a haven of refuge for the Jew. 

Meanwhile the Portuguese Marranos, who had found 
an asylum in Ancona, under the protection of Pope 
Clement VII., and who had continued to live there 
unmolested under Paul III. and Julius III., were exposed 

1 A good account of the Roman Ghetto may be found in E, 
Rodocanachi's Le Saint-Siege et les Juifs : Le Ghetto a Rome (Paris, 1891). 


to even more violent persecution than their Jewish 
brethren of Rome. A month after the establishment of 
the Ghetto in the latter city, a secret order was issued by- 
Paul IV. that all the Marranos of Ancona should be cast 
into the vaults of the Holy Office and their goods con- 
fiscated. Some of the prisoners professed penitence, and 
were banished to Malta ; the rest were burnt at the stake. 
The few who succeeded in escaping the racks of the 
Inquisition took refuge in the dominions of the Dukes of 
Urbino and Ferrara, while of the exiles in Malta some 
fled to Turkey ; and all these refugees combined in a 
scheme of revenge upon the Pope by attempting to place 
his seaport Ancona under a commercial ban. But their 
efforts failed, owing to the conflicting interests of the 
various Jewish communities in Italy and the Levant, and 
the Rabbis assembled at Constantinople for the purpose 
could not arrive at a unanimous decision. 

Not long after, the Duke of Urbino was compelled by 
the Inquisition to banish the refugees from his dominions, 
1558 and they, having barely escaped the Pope's naval police, 
fled to Turkey. In the same year the Duke of Ferrara 
also was obliged to withdraw his protection from the 
Marranos. Throughout the reign of Paul IV. the perse- 
cution of the Jews and crypto-Jews left in the Papal 
States raged fiercely, baptized renegades being always the 
hounds in the chase. Paul IV. died in 1559, and his 
body was accompanied to the grave by the curses of the 
Romans. His statue was demolished, and a Jew insulted 
the tyrant's image by placing upon its head his own yellow 
hat, while the mob applauded the act with shouts of bitter 
joy. The buildings of the Holy Office were burnt, and 
the Dominicans roughly handled by the populace. 

But the lot of the Jews was not permanently improved 
by the disappearance of their arch-enemy. Pius IV. was 
besought to alleviate their burdens, and he issued a 
favourable Bull. Those Jews who lived outside the city 
were allowed to dispense with the badge, to acquire land 
to a certain value, and to trade in other articles besides 
old clothes. But even these slight concessions were 
1 5 66- 1 5 72 withdrawn by Pius V., who vied with Paul IV. in his 


conscientious persecution of heresy and unbelief. In the 
third month after his accession to St. Peter's throne all the 
old restrictions were once more enforced on the Jews of 
the Papal States, and were extended to their brethren 
throughout the Catholic world. Infractions of these 
decrees were punished severely, and were made the 
pretext for robbery. Finally Pius V., deaf to the advice 
of his wisest counsellors and to the interests of his own 
State, issued a Bull, expelling all the Jews in his 1569 
dominions, save those of Rome and Ancona. As usual, a 
few turned Christians, but the majority preferred to quit 
in a hurry, leaving behind them all the property which 
they could not realise and all the debts which they could 
not collect at the short notice given. The exiles were 
scattered among the neighbouring States of Urbino, 
Ferrara, Mantua, and Milan. 

Gregory XIIL, the successor of Pius V., carried on 1 572-1 585 
the anti-Jewish programme of his predecessors. He 
renewed the canonical law which forbade Jewish physicians 
to attend on Christian patients, punishing transgressors 
on both sides. Jews suspected of holding intercourse 
with heretics, of harbouring refugees from Spain, or of 
otherwise helping the enemies and the victims of the 
Church, were dragged before the Inquisition and con- 
demned to loss of goods, to slavery in the galleys, or to 
death. The Talmud and other Hebrew writings were 
again hunted out and burnt. Gregory also encouraged 
the Jesuits in their work of conversion, and the Jews were 
compelled, by a Papal Bull of 1584, to listen to sermons 
at the church of St. Angelo, near the Ghetto, and to 
pay the preachers employed to pervert them. Many of 
the wretches, yielding to fear or to temptation, embraced 
Christianity; many more left Rome. 

Sixtus V., actuated by a broader and humaner spirit I 5 8 5~ I 59 2 
and by a more enlightened thirst for gold than had 
animated any of his antecessors or contemporaries, 
abolished these cruel decrees, pulled down the barriers 1586 
which circumscribed the judicial and financial status of the 
Jews, forbade the gallant knights of Malta to enslave the 
Jews whom they met on the high seas in their voyages to 


and from the Levant, granted to the Jews perfect liberty 
of conscience, residence and commerce in his dominions, 
and, in lieu of the unlimited rapacity of former Popes, 
substituted a fixed capitation tax of twelve Giulii on all 
males between the ages of sixteen and sixty. This 
revolution tempted many Jews to return to Rome. Sixtus 
crowned his liberality by allowing the printing of the 
Talmud and of other Hebrew books, after previous 
subjection to censorship. 

1 592-1605 But the relief was only temporary. Under Clement 
VIII., otherwise an excellent man and an able statesman, 

1593 the reign of intolerance was revived. He expelled the 

Jews from the States of the Church, except Rome and 
Ancona, and forbade the use of Hebrew books. A few 

1597 years later he ordered their expulsion from the Milan 

district, and they barely escaped a similar sentence at 
Ferrara, which, upon the failure of the line of Este, had 
recently been added to the Pope's dominions. 

In the seventeenth century we hear of more Papal 
Bulls, barring the Italian Jews from all honourable pro- 
fessions and limiting their commercial activity to trade in 
cast-off clothes. 

It was during this black period of Jewish history that 
an English gentleman came to Rome. He was a traveller 
who had an eye for other things than picturesque ruins, 
and a heart in which there was room for other people 
than those whom chance had made his compatriots and 
co-religionists. His name was John Evelyn. Among 
the things which he saw in Rome was the Jewish quarter, 
and he records his impressions in the following words, 
under date January 7, 1645 : 

" A sermon was preached to the Jews at Ponte Sisto, 
who are constrained to sit till the hour is done ; but 
it is with so much malice in their countenances, spitting, 
humming, coughing, and motion, that it is almost 
impossible they should hear a word from the preacher. 
A conversion is very rare." 1 

1 Browning in his Holy-Cross Day has depicted the farcical grotesque- 
ness of these efforts at conversion as unsparingly as Heine satirised the 
compulsory controversies. Cp. above, p. 98 ». 


Again under date January T5, 1645 : 

" I went to the Ghetto, where the Jewes dwell as in a 
suburbe by themselves ; being invited by a Jew of my 
acquaintance to see a circumcision. I passed by the 
Piazza Judea, where their Seraglio begins; for being 
inviron'd with walls, they are lock'd up every night. In 
this place remaines yet part of a stately fabric, which my 
Jew told me had been a palace of theirs for the ambassador 
of their nation when their country was subject to the 
Romans. Being led through the Synagogue into a 
private house, I found a world of people in a chamber : 
by and by came an old man, who prepared and layd in 
order divers instruments brought by a little child of 
about 7 yeares old in a box. These the man lay'd in 
a silver bason ; the knife was much like a short razor to 
shut into the haft. Then they burnt some incense in a 
censer, which perfum'd the rorae all the while the ceremony 
was performing. In the basin was a little cap made of 
white paper like a capuchin's hood, not bigger than the 
finger. . . . Whilst the ceremony was performing, all 
the company fell a singing an Hebrew hymn in a barbar- 
ous tone, waving themselves to and fro, a ceremony they 
observe in all their devotions. The Jewes in Rome all 
wear yellow hatts, live only upon brokage and usury, 
very poore and despicable beyond what they are in other 
territories of Princes where they are permitted." 

And again under date May 6, 1645 : 

" The Jewes in Rome wore red hatts til the Card, of 
Lions, being short-sighted, lately saluted one of them 
thinking him to be a Cardinal as he pass'd by his coach ; 
on which an order was made that they should use only the 
yellow colour." 

Next year Evelyn visited the Jewish quarter at Venice : 

" The next day I was conducted to the Ghetta, where 
the Jewes dwell together as in a tribe or ward, where I 
was present at a marriage. The bride was clad in white, 
sitting in a lofty chaire, and cover'd with a white vaile ; 
then two old Rabbies joyned them together, one of them 
holding a glasse of wine in his hand, which in the midst 
of the ceremony, pretending to deliver to the woman, he 


let fall, the breaking whereof was to signify the frailty of 
our nature, and that we must expect disasters and crosses 
amidst all enjoyments. This don, we had a fine banquet, 
and were brought into the bride-chamber, where the bed 
was dress'd up with flowers, and the counterpan strewed 
in workes. At this ceremony we saw divers very beautiful 
Portuguez Jewesses with whom we had some conver- 
sation." 1 

These two little pictures, which, like the portraits on 
ancient Egyptian mummy cases, preserve for us in un- 
dimmed freshness the features of the dead past, show that 
not even the gloom and the filth of the Ghetto were 
potent enough to kill the Jew's attachment to his 
traditions and his love for symbolism, or to befoul the 
poetry of his inner life. But, ere we enter upon that 
phase of the subject, we must record another oppres- 
sive law, passed in Rome at a time when the century 
that was to witness the downfall of ancient dynasties, the 
death of despotism, and the awakening of the popular 
soul was already far advanced. This eighteenth century 
Edict, in forty-four Articles, codifies all the prohibitions 
which had been decreed during the foregoing ages : it 
forms the epilogue to the sordid tragedy. One of the 
articles runs as follows : " Jews and Christians are for- 
bidden to play, eat, drink, hold intercourse, or exchange 
confidences of ever so trifling a nature with one another. 
Such shall not be allowed in palaces, houses, or vine- 
yards, in the streets, in taverns, in neither shops nor any 
other place. . . . The Jews who offend in this matter 
shall incur the penalties of a fine of 10 Scudi and im- 
prisonment ; Christians, a similar fine and corporal 
punishment." 2 

Thus the children of Israel dwelt apart in these narrow 
quarters, multiplying fast, while the space allotted to them 
remained the same ; herded together, many families in the 
same house, often in the same room ; and breathing the 
air of what, under the circumstances, rapidly developed into 
veritable slums. The world beyond gradually outgrew 

1 Diary, March 23, 1646. 
2 I. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, pp. 409-410. 


mediaeval conditions of life ; the streets became straight, 
broad and airy ; light penetrated into courts which the 
overhanging upper stories once doomed to perpetual 
darkness ; but the Ghetto knew none of these blessings. 
Year after year life in the Ghetto grew more squalid, 
and the inmates more indifferent alike to the demands 
of contemporary fashion and of common decency. Con- 
finement initiated degradation ; the fatal gift of fecundity, 
cultivated as a religious duty, promoted it, and soon the 
Roman Ghetto became a by-word for its filth and misery. 
At one time as many as ten thousand souls swarmed in a 
space less than a square kilometre. To the curse of over- 
population was added the yearly overflow of the Tiber, 
which transformed the narrow, crooked lanes into marshy 
alleys, filled the basements with pestiferous mud, and 
turned the whole quarter into a dismal abode of pre- 
maturely aged men, of stunted, elderly children, and of 
repulsive wrecks of womanhood : a place where Poverty 
and the Plague stalked hand in hand, and where man was 
engaged in a perpetual struggle with Death. 

The seclusion of the Ghetto widened the breach between 
the two worlds. If the Gentile forbade the J ew to assume 
the title, or to pursue the callings, of a Christian gentle- 
man, the Jewish communal law forbade him to wear the 
garb of the Christian gentleman. The diversity in dress 
was only an external type of the deeper diversity of 
character that separated the two elements. The ignorance 
of the Gentile grew more profound, and the prejudice 
of the Jew more implacable than they had ever been 
before. The Ghetto was an institution beside which 
monasticism might appear the ideal of sociability. The 
young monk on entering the cloisters of his convent 
carried into them the indelible impressions of family-life 
and the tender memories of boyhood. The inmate of the 
Ghetto, so far as the outer world was concerned, was 
born a monk. Everybody within the walls of the Ghetto 
was a brother, everybody beyond its gates an enemy. 
In infancy the outer world was an unknown, non-existing 
world. Later the child of the Ghetto was accustomed to 
hear those beyond described as idolaters ; monsters whose 


impurity was to be shunned, whose cruelty to be feared, 
whose rapacity to be baffled by cunning — the protection 
and the pest of the weak. These lessons were illustrated 
by the tales of assault and insult, of which its parents and 
its relatives were constantly the victims, more especially 
on Christian holidays. Still later personal experience 
gave flesh and blood to the hearsay tales of child- 

But this outward misery was redeemed by the purity 
and purifying influence of domestic life. The home was 
the one spot on earth where the hunted Jew felt a man. 
On crossing the threshold of his house he discarded, along 
with the garb of shame, all fear and servility. Every- 
where else spurned like a dog, under his own roof he 
was honoured as master and priest. The Sabbath lamp 
chased the shades and sorrows of servitude out of the Jew's 
heart. His pride was fostered and his humanity saved 
by the religious and social life of the Ghetto. Rendered 
by familiarity callous to obloquy on the part of the 
Gentiles, the Jew remained morbidly sensitive to the 
opinion of his own people. Persecution from without 
brought closer union within. As often happens in adver- 
sity, individual interests were sacrificed to the public good. 
Reciprocity in spiritual no less than in temporal matters — 
the power of combination — the principle of social 
fraternity — always a characteristic of the Jew — grew into 
a passion unparalleled in history since the early days of 

Various communal ordinances {takkanotJi) enforced this 
sentiment of mutual loyalty. For example, no Jew was 
allowed to compete with a brother- Jew in renting a house 
from a Christian, or to replace a tenant without the 
latter's consent. A series of such laws, many of them 
dating from a much earlier period, were re-enacted by 
a congress of Italian Rabbis on the very eve of the 
creation of the Roman Ghetto. Thus the Jews virtually 
acquired a perpetual lease of their homes; their com- 
munal right to the house {jus casaca) being an asset 
which could be sold, bequeathed, or bestowed as dowry 
upon a daughter. The Popes were not slow to take 


cognisance of this ordinance. Clement VIII. legalised the 
arrangement, so that, whilst the rent was regularly paid, 
eviction was practically impossible. But one of his 
successors carried the principle of Jewish reciprocity to 
its logical conclusion and turned it against the Jews 
themselves, by making the community as a body respon- 
sible for the rent of all the houses in the Ghetto, empty as 
well as tenanted. The same reciprocity of interests was 
recognised in. matters pertaining to the soul. Each 
member of the brotherhood was responsible for the sins 
of the rest, and the confession of the individual was a 
confession for the whole community. 

Israel, cut off from the world, created a world unto 
itself. Never did Judaism attain a higher degree of 
religious uniformity, never were the spiritual bonds that 
bound together the scattered members of the great family 
drawn closer than in this period of their sorest affliction. 
Language was gone, country, state ; nothing remained to 
the Jews but religion. It was held that, if the teaching of 
the Law were allowed to disappear, it would mean the 
disappearance of the race. Religion was nationalised that 
the nation might be saved. The rigorous discipline of 
the Synagogue and the absence of social joy had always 
encouraged devotion. The Ghetto crystallised it into a 
code. Joseph Caro's Shulchan Aruch, or "Table Pre- 
pared," a handbook of law and custom, compiled in the 
middle of the sixteenth century, fixed the fluid features 
of Jewish life into the rigid mask which it continued to 
wear, throughout Europe, till the beginning of the 
nineteenth century. But deep beneath the ice-surface of 
ritual — the crust of dead and deadening rules and 
prohibitions — there ran the living and sustaining current 
of faith, all the stronger and fiercer for its imprisonment. 
The outcasts of humanity, in the midst of their degrada- 
tion — despised, and in many ways despicable — preserved 
the precious heritage, and their pride therein, unimpaired. 
Numerous fasts and feasts assisted this preservation. 
Thus the community fasted on Sabbath afternoons in 
memory of the death of Moses, or on Sundays in 
memory of the destruction of the Temple. 


On the Day of Atonement they listened with reverence 
to the touching words in which a noble old Hebrew bard 
gave utterance to the sorrow of his race : 

"Destroyed lies Zion and profaned, 
Of splendour and renown bereft, 
Her ancient glories wholly waned, 
One deathless treasure only left ; 

Still ours, O Lord, 

Thy Holy Word." 1 

The Feast of Tabernacles year after year rekindled 
their gratitude for the miraculous preservation in the 
wilderness. The Feast of Dedication reminded them of 
their deliverance from the Hellenic yoke. On the 
Passover Eve was read the Seder, most ancient of home 
services, and round the festive board were then gathered 
the shades of the gifted men of old who had sung the 
glories of Israel, and of the brave men who had suffered 
for the faith of Israel. Then was retold for the 
thousandth time, with tears and with laughter, to the 
accompaniment of song and wine, the tale of their 
ancestors' departure from Egypt. At the end of the 
meal the door was opened, and a wine cup was left upon 
the table. This was done for the reception of Elijah, the 
harbinger of the expected Messiah. In this and like 
domestic rites the memory of the past was annually 
revived, and, if its splendour made the sordid present look 
more sordid still, it also kept alive the hope of 
redemption. The magic carpet of faith, that priceless 
heirloom of Israel, transported the inmates of the Ghetto 
out of their noisome surroundings far away to the radiant 
realms of Zion. The Messianic Utopia never was more 
real to the Jews than at this time. From a favourite 
dream it grew into a fervent desire. It was firmly held 
that the Redeemer would soon come in His glory and 
might, would gather His people from the four corners of 
the earth, would slay their foes, would restore the Temple 
of Jerusalem, and would compel the nations to acknow- 
ledge the Majesty of the God of the Jews. We have 
already seen one of these seventeenth century Messiahs, 
1 S. Schechter, Studies in Judaism, p. 1 5. 


Sabbata'i Zebi of Smyrna. His was not the only attempt 
in which the longings of the race recognised their fulfil- 
ment. These Messianic phenomena, whatever else may 
be thought of them, are the most pathetic illustrations of 
that immortal hope, which formed the Jew's only con- 
solation in times of unexampled suffering, and from which 
he drew his invincible fortitude. But for that hope the 
Jewish nation would have long since ceased to fill 
thinkers with wonder at its vitality. Faith in God, which 
after all means faith in one's self — this is the talisman 
which has enabled the Jew, as it has enabled the Greek, 
to pass triumphantly through trials which would have 
crushed most other races. The same blast which ex- 
tinguishes a small fire fans a great one to an even 
mightier flame. 



The love for liberty which gave birth to the Renaissance 
was also the parent of another child — the Reformation. 
The first saw the light in Latin, the second in Teutonic 
Europe. The vindication of man's rights was their 
common object: but while the Renaissance strove to 
attain that object through the emancipation of the human 
reason, the Reformation endeavoured to reach it by the 
emancipation of the human conscience. Intelligence, the 
inheritance of Hellenism, was the weapon of the one: 
the other drew its strength from the Hebraic fountain of 
Intuition. Papacy was the enemy of both. Individual 
Popes nourished the elder movement and thus unwittingly 
prepared an example and an ally for the other. While 
Nicholas I., Pius II., and Leo X. dallied with the infant 
giant in Italy, its brother across the Alps was training and 
arming for the fray. 

The revolt against the autocracy of the Roman Court 
was begun in the middle of the fourteenth century by 
Wickliffe, and was continued by Huss. The licentiousness 
of the pontiffs and cardinals, of priests and monks, during 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries invigorated the spirit 
of the rebels and brought fresh recruits to their ranks ; 
and the German princes, who had long chafed against 
the fetters imposed upon them by Papal and Imperial 
interference, took the Reformers under their protection, 
thus supplying that secular side without which no holy 
war has ever been. 

In Erasmus — "the glory of the priesthood and the 
shame " — the two movements found a common champion 


and spokesman. In him the Renaissance crossed 
the Alps, and in his famous Praise of Folly the Latin 
hostility to the intellectual tyranny of the Church is 
found united with the Teutonic hostility to her spiritual 
tyranny. The vows and the vigils, the self-abasement, 
the penances and the mournfulness of Catholicism are 
attacked not less unsparingly than the worldliness, the 
immorality and the hypocrisy of its ministers. But, if 
Erasmus marks the meeting, he also marks the parting 
of the ways. 

Beside Erasmus stands Luther. He also combined 
intellectual attainments with spiritual aims. But the one 
figure faces the Renaissance; the other the Reformation 
road. Erasmus, while ridiculing in elegant satire the 
superstitions of the day, the malpractices of sordid priests, 
and the excesses of merry friars, shrinks from a breach 
with the Holy See. Much as he would like to see 
Catholicism reconciled to commonsense, he recoils with 
horror before the stakes and the scaffolds of the Holy 
Office. He could agree with Luther on many points, 
and yet write : " Even if Luther had spoken everything 
in the most unobjectionable manner, I had no inclination 
to die for the sake of Truth." " Let others affect martyr- 
dom," he says elsewhere : " for myself I am unworthy of 
the honour." Martin Luther was made of sterner stuff 
and simpler. Though he joined forces with the apostles 
of culture, he was determined to go much further than 
they in one direction, not as far in another. The alliance 
between Literature and Reform, between the two brothers 
Reason and Conscience, between the Southern and the 
Northern Ideals, could not last long. The free and 
cheerful element in Luther's temperament, and his literary 
tastes, prevented a definite rupture in his own time. But 
under his successors the difference between the two sides 
became too wide for co-operation. Reason and laughter 
marched one way. Conscience and gloom the other. 

We have already seen that the sons of exiled Israel 
reaped but scant comfort from the triumph of Liberty's 
elder offspring. We shall now proceed to show what the 
victory of the other brought to them. 


Martin Luther in his Table-Talk gives a full and vivid 
description of the German Jews in his day. He tells us 
that their footsteps are to be found throughout Germany. 
In Saxony many names of places speak of them : Ziman, 
Damen, Resen, Sygretz, Schvitz, Pratha, Thablon. 1 At 
Frankfort-on-the-Maine they are extremely numerous: 
" They have a whole street to themselves of which every 
house is filled with them. They are compelled to wear 
little yellow rings on their coats, thereby to be known ; 
they have no houses or grounds of their own, only 
furniture; and, indeed, they can only lend money upon 
houses or grounds at great hasard." 2 "They are not 
permitted to keep or trade in cattle ; their main occupations 
being brokage and usury." 3 

But this does not exhaust the list of oppression : 

" A rich Jew, on his death bed, ordered that his remains 
should be conveyed to Ratisbon. His friends, knowing 
that even the corpse of a Jew could not travel without 
paying heavy toll, devised the expedient of packing the 
carcase in a barrel of wine, which they then forwarded in 
the ordinary way. The waggoners, not knowing what lay 
within, tapped the barrel, and swilled away right joyously, 
till they found out they had been drinking Jew's pickle. 
How it fared with them you may imagine." 4 

Nor was extortion the only danger that the travelling 
Jew had to face : " Two Jewish Rabbis, named Schamaria 
and Jacob, came to me at Wittenberg, desiring of me 
letters of safe conduct, which I granted them, and they 
were well pleased." 5 

The unpopularity of the Jews in Germany at this time 
arose partly from their staunch adherence to the Idea, 
their aloofness and their dissent in modes of thinking and 
living from their neighbours : 

"They sit as on a wheelbarrow, without a country, 
people or Government ; yet they wait on with earnest 
confidence ; they cheer up themselves and say : ' It will 
soon be better with us.' . . . They eat nothing the 

1 William Hazlitt's Translation, ch. 857. 2 Ch. 85 3. 

3 Ch. 852. *Ch. 700. 5Ch. 859. 


Christians kill or touch ; they drink no wine ; they have 
many superstitions; they wash the flesh most diligently, 
whereas they cannot be cleansed through the flesh. They 
drink not milk, because God said : c Thou shalt not boil 
the young kid in his mother's milk.' " x 

Partly from their rapacity and their hostility to the 
non-Jew : " 'Tis a pernicious race, oppressing all men by 
their usury and rapine. If they give a prince or a 
magistrate a thousand florins, they extort twenty thousand 
from the subjects in payment. We must ever keep on 
our guard against them. They think to render homage 
to God by injuring the Christians, and yet we employ 
their physicians; 'tis a tempting of God." 2 

Partly from their arrogance : 

" They have haughty prayers, wherein they praise and 
call upon God, as if they alone were his people, cursing and 
condemning all other nations, relying on the 23rd Psalm : 
'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.' As if 
that psalm was written exclusively concerning them." 3 

How far these unamiable qualities were the cause, and 
how far the effect of the Gentile's antipathy to the Jew, is 
a question which prejudice on either side finds no difficulty 
in answering. The humble-minded and impartial student 
prefers to record the fact and ignore the question. But 
it is passing strange to find the Jew's resolute faith in 
the Faithful Shepherd characterised as an ofFence against 
good manners. 

We have seen that the persecution of the Jews in 
mediaeval Germany, from the awful carnage in the Rhine- 
land (1096 foil.) to their expulsion from Ratisbon (1476), 
had for its proximate cause the hatred entertained towards 
them by the Catholic Church. The orgies of the Crusaders 
were mainly dictated by pious vindictiveness ; the violent 
efforts of the Dominican friars and of the Inquisition to 
convert the Jews were prompted by the desire to save them 
from heresy and to prevent them from infecting others by 
their example. All the heresies from the Albigensian, 
through the Hussite, up to the movement which cul- 
minated in Luther's secession from the Roman fold, were 
1 Ch. 852. 2 Ch. 864. % Ibid. 


considered by the Church as having their roots in Jewish 
teaching and practice. The adoration of the Virgin, of 
Saints, and of relics, which offended the Jew in the Roman 
cult were also the special objects of Protestant detestation. 
They had both suffered for the sake of conscience ; 
dissent, the crime of Judaism, was the glory of Pro- 
testantism ; Rome, the secular foe of the one, was also the 
sworn enemy of the other ; and they were both branded 
by Rome with the common epithet of Heretics. We 
might, therefore, have reasonably expected that Luther 
and his brother-reformers would have regarded the Jews 
with sympathy. But history does not confirm this a priori 

Protestantism from the first proved as hostile to the 
Jews as Catholicism. It has been suggested that Luther's 
animosity was due to the fact that the enthusiasm for 
Reform and for the simplification of doctrine and worship 
had produced a tendency towards Hebrew Unitarianism, 
the leaders of which movement were stigmatised as Semi- 
Judaei. It would perhaps be nearer the truth to say that 
the hostility towards the Jew was so old and so deep, and 
it sprang from so many sources, that not even community 
of interests and enmities could obliterate it. We have 
already seen Jews and Christians both lost in the same 
maze of Cabbalistic mysticism; but this partnership in 
folly did not improve the relations between the two sects. 
Nor did the Reformers' attachment to the Hebrew Bible 
produce any affection for the race of whose genius that 
Bible was the fruit. The Jew was detested in the concrete 
as much as he was admired in the abstract. Luther's 
disappointed hope of converting the Jews to Protestantism 
may have also influenced him. But, be the origin of the 
feeling what it may, the promoters of the Protestant cause 
and their followers, from the sixteenth century onwards, 
adopted a most unfriendly attitude towards Israel. Nor, 
so far as Luther is concerned, is this development 
altogether unintelligible. 

Luther the rebel against the Church was one person ; 
Luther the founder of a Church, another. While engaged 
in his duel with Rome, Martin Luther strove to secure 


the favour and assistance of the Humanists of his 
day. He took pains to represent the cause of Reform 
as being the cause of Reason. He described his friends 
as the friends of liberal culture, and his foes as the 
foes of light. He invited theological discussion, and 
professed himself ready to be guided in the inter- 
pretation of the Scriptures by pure reason. But when 
the struggle was over and the battle was won, the 
despotic character and inflexible dogmatism of the 
religious leader alienated many of his literary allies, 
Erasmus among them; while the same causes also 
estranged many of his religious sympathisers. Indeed, 
Luther's bearing in the hour of his success seemed 
to lend colour to the assertion of his adversaries, that, 
had he been pope, instead of Leo X., he would have 
defended the Church against a much more formidable 
antagonist than the monk of Wittenberg. After all, 
a rebel often is only a tyrant out of power. 

Towards the Jews Luther's conduct was the same 
as towards his fellow-Christians and fellow-rebels. At 
first he undertook to defend them against all the 
time-honoured prejudices of the Middle Ages. He 
denounced in no measured terms the un-Christian spirit 
of " silly theologians " and their insolence towards the 
Jews, and in 1523 he published a work under the 
startling title, Jesus was born a Jew; in which he 
declares, "Those fools the Papists, bishops, sophists, 
monks, have formerly so dealt with the Jews, that 
every good Christian would have rather been a Jew. 
And if I had been a Jew, and seen such stupidity 
and such blockheads reign in the Christian Church, 
I would rather be a pig than a Christian. They have 
treated the Jews as if they were dogs, not men, and 
as if they were fit for nothing but to be reviled. 
They are blood-relations of our Lord ; therefore, if 
we respect flesh and blood, the Jews belong to Christ 
more than we. I beg, therefore ; my dear Papists, 
if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that 
you begin to revile me as a Jew. 

" Therefore, it is my advice that we should treat 


them kindly but now we drive them by force, treating 
them deceitfully or ignominiously, saying they must 
have Christian blood to wash away the Jewish stain, 
and I know not what nonsense. Also we prohibit them 
from working amongst us, from living and having 
social intercourse with us, forcing them, if they would 
remain with us, to be usurers." 1 

These were the sentiments of Luther the rebel. 
Luther the victor retained nothing of them, save the 
vigour with which they are expressed. Although in 
preparing his German translation of the Bible Luther 
availed himself of the assistance of Jewish Rabbis, he 
regarded them with no less aversion than the Papists 
to whom he often compares them. His violent ter- 
giversation was made manifest in 1544, when he 
published a pamphlet under the suggestive title Concerning 
the Jews and their lies. In this work the apostle of 
emancipation gives the reins to a Jew-hatred fully 
equal to that exhibited by the Catholic enemies of 
Judaism. The quotations from Luther's Table-Talk, 
given already, have shown that he shared the antipathy 
nourished by his contemporaries against the Jewish 
people. Some more quotations from the same book 
will show that he surpassed them in his hostility towards 
the Jewish creed. 

Martin Luther is deeply impressed by the ancient 
greatness of the Hebrew race : "It was a mighty 
nation." 2 " What are we poor miserable folk — what 
is Rome, compared with Jerusalem ? " 3 " The Jews 
above all other nations had great privileges ; they had 
the chief promises, the highest worship of God, and 
a worship more pleasing to human nature than God's 
service of faith in the New Testament. . . . The 
Jews had excelling men among them, as Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, Samuel, Paul. Who 
can otherwise than grieve that so great and glorious 
a nation should so lamentably be destroyed ? " 

X H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iv. p. 502. 
2 Ch. 857. 3Ch. 864. 


Martin Luther is as deeply sensible of our debt to 
the Jews : " The Latin Church had no excelling men 
and teachers, but Augustin ; and the Churches of the 
East none but Athanasius, and he was nothing particular ; 
therefore, we are twigs grafted into the right tree. 
The prophets call the Jews, especially those of the line 
of Abraham, a fair switch, out of which Christ himself 
came." 1 Nor is he blind to their sufferings — "The 
Jews are the most miserable people on earth. They 
are plagued everywhere and scattered about all countries, 
having no certain resting place " 2 — or to their heroic 
faith in the future. 3 

But these noble sentiments of admiration, gratitude, 
and pity seem to be mere transient emotions ; the 
theologian within him is too powerful for the man. 
The Jew's sublime confidence is no virtue in Luther's 
eyes. It is a wicked delusion : " Thus hardened are 
they ; but let them know assuredly, that there is none 
other Lord or God, but only he that already sits at 
the right hand of God the Father." 4 Their attachment 
to the rites of their religion is to Luther another proof 
of their wickedness : " Such superstitions proceed out 
of God's anger. They that are without faith, have 
laws without end, as we see in the Papists and Turks. 
But they are rightly served, for seeing they refused to 
have Christ and his gospel, instead of freedom they 
must have servitude." 5 Their calamities, far from 
inspiring Luther with compassion, supply him with a 
fresh argument for denunciation : " The glory of the 
Temple was great, that the whole world must worship 
there. But God, out of special wisdom, caused this 
Temple to be destroyed, to the end the Jews might 
be put to confusion, and no more brag and boast 
thereof." 6 And again, "Either God must be unjust, 
or you, Jews, wicked and ungodly ; for ye have been 
in misery and fearful exile a far longer time than ye 
were in the land of Canaan. Ye had not the Temple 
of Solomon more than three hundred years, while ye 
have been hunted up and down above fifteen hundred. 

a Ch. 866. 2 C h. 852. *Bid. *I6M. '"Ibid. 6 Ch. 856. 


At Babylon ye had more eminence than at Jerusalem, 
for Daniel was a greater and more powerful prince at 
Babylon than either David or Solomon at Jerusalem. . . . 
You have been above fifteen hundred years a race 
rejected of God without government, without laws, 
without prophets, without temple. This argument ye 
cannot solve ; it strikes you to the ground like a 
thunder-clap ; ye can show no other reason for your 
condition than your sins." x 

The destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion and 
persecution of the race are clear evidence of God's 
anger : " But the Jews are so hardened that they listen 
to nothing : though overcome by testimonies, they 
yield not an inch" 2 — so " stiff-necked, haughty and 
presumptuous they are " : 3 Verily, an arrogant and cruel 
race of men, boasting, like the Papists, " that they alone 
are God's people, and will allow of none but of those 
that are of their Church." 4 To Luther, as to Tacitus, 
the Jews are the enemies of mankind : " And truly, 
they hate us Christians as they do death. It galls 
them to see us. If I were master of the country, I 
would not allow them to practise usury." 5 

The reputed proficiency of the Jews in the black art is 
another grievous offence in Luther's eyes : " There are 
sorcerers among the Jews, who delight in tormenting 
Christians, for they hold us as dogs. Duke Albert of 
Saxony well punished one of these wretches. A Jew 
offered to sell him a talisman covered with strange 
characters, which he said effectually protected the wearer 
against any sword or dagger thrust. The Duke replied : 
1 1 will essay thy charm upon thyself, Jew,' and, putting 
the talisman round the fellow's neck, he drew his sword 
and passed it through his body. ( Thou feelest, Jew ! ' 
said he, 'how it would have been with me had I purchased 
thy talisman ? ' " ° The story contains several points of 
interest for the student of mediaeval Christianity, Luther's 
own approbation of the Duke's act being not the least 
interesting of them. 

iCh. 861. 2 Ch. 864. 3 Ch. 852. 

4 Ch. 855. 5 Ch. 867. 6 Ch. 862. 


Luther, the champion of spiritual freedom, could not 
forgive the Jews for differing from him in the interpreta- 
tion of the Scriptures : cC The Jews read our books, and 
thereout raise objections against us ; 'tis a nation that 
scorns and blasphemes even as the lawyers, the Papists, 
and adversaries do, taking out of our writings the know- 
ledge of our cause, and using the same as weapons against 
us." 1 Yet the very tactics which Luther so ingenuously 
condemns in the Jews, lawyers, and Papists, he himself is 
the first to adopt. In his endeavours to convert the Jews 
he draws all his arguments, as others had done before 
him, from the Hebrew Bible : " I am persuaded if the 
Jews heard our preaching, and how we handle the Old 
Testament, many of them might be won, but, through 
disputing, they have become more and more stiff-necked, 
haughty, and presumptuous." 2 And elsewhere : u I have 
studied the chief passages of Scripture that constitute the 
grounds upon which the Jews argue against us ; as where 
God said to Abraham : ' I will make my covenant between 
me and thee, and with thy seed after thee, in their gene- 
rations, for an everlating covenant . . .' Here the Jews 
brag, as the Papists do upon the passage, 'Thou art 
Peter.' I would willingly bereave the Jews of this 
bragging by rejecting the Law of Moses, so that they 
should not be able to gainsay me. We have against 
them the prophet Jeremiah, where he says, f Behold, the 
time cometh, saith the Lord, when I will make a new 
covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of 
Judah, not as the covenant which I made with their 
fathers.' . . ." 3 On another occasion he tries to refute the 
Jews by quoting Jeremiah's prophecy <£ touching Christ : 
' Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that 1 will raise 
unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign 
and prosper . . . and this is the name whereby he shall 
be called, The Lord our Righteousness.' This argument 
the Jews are not able to solve ; yet, if they deny that 
this sentence is spoken of Christ, they must show unto 
us another King, descended from David, who should 

iCh. 858. ach. 852. 

3 Ch. S54. 


govern so long as the sun and moon endure, as the 
promises of the prophets declare." l 

Luther in these passages, and passages like these, 
repeats all the well-worn arguments with which Christians 
from the earliest times strove to persuade the Jews that 
the Messiah had come. He insists that " the Law of 
Moses continued but for a while, therefore it must be 
abolished " ; that " the circumcision was to continue but 
for a while, until the Messiah came ; when he came, the 
commandment was at an end," superseded by " the 
circumcision of the heart " ; 2 that it was faith and not 
works that justified Abraham, 3 and sc forth. But the 
Jews answered Luther's arguments, as their fathers had 
answered the arguments of Justin Martyr, of Tertullian, 
and of other ancient authorities, and the arguments of the 
Dominican friars : " The covenant of the circumcision 
given before Moses' time, and made between God and 
Abraham and his seed Isaac in his generation, they say, 
must and shall be an everlasting covenant, which they will 
not suffer to be taken from them." 4 

Luther's eloquence, or perhaps his power to protect 
them, occasionally prevailed with the Jews. He tells us 
that the two Rabbis, Schamaria and Jacob, who went to 
him at Wittenberg to solicit a safe conduct, "struck to 
the heart, silenced and convinced, forsook their errors, 
became converts, and the day following, in the presence 
of the whole university at Wittenberg, were baptized 
Christians." 5 The long sufferings of the race, and the 
ever deferred fulfilment of the hope of redemption, some- 
times produced heartsickness and despair: "In 1537, 
when I was at Frankfurt, a great rabbi said to me, c My 
father had read very much, and waited for the coming of 
the Messiah, but at last he fainted, and out of hope said : 
As our Messiah has not come in fifteen hundred years, 
most certainly Christ Jesus must be he.' " 6 And again, 
" A Jew came to me at Wittenberg, and said : He was 
desirous to be baptized, and made a Christian, but that he 

Ch. 860. 

2 Ch. 854. 

3 Ch. 855. 

Ch. 854. 

5 Ch. 861. 

6 Ch. 865. 


would first go to Rome to see the chief head of Christen- 
dom. From this intention myself, Philip Melanchthon, 
and other divines laboured to dissuade him, fearing lest, 
when he witnessed the offences and knaveries at Rome, 
he might be scared from Christendom. But the Jew 
went to Rome, and when he had sufficiently seen the 
abominations acted there he returned to us again, desiring 
to be baptized, and said : £ Now I will willingly worship 
the God of the Christians, for he is a patient God. If 
he can endure such wickedness and villainy as is done 
at Rome, he can suffer and endure all the vices and 
knaveries of the world.' " 1 

But all those that are baptized are not converts. 
Martin Luther was too shrewd not to perceive the dis- 
tinction. How he would have dealt with such hypocrites 
he tells us with charming frankness : " If a Jew, not con- 
verted at heart, were to ask baptism at my hands, I would 
take him on to the bridge, tie a stone round his neck, and 
hurl him into the river; for these wretches are wont to 
make a jest of our religion. Yet, after all, water and the 
Divine Word being the essence of baptism, a Jew, or any 
other, would be none the less validly baptized, that his 
own feelings and intentions were not the result of faith." 2 

Yet, even such cases of pseudo-conversion were rare. 
The Jews, as a sect, far from yielding to the efforts of the 
Christians to make them embrace Christianity, entertained 
hopes of the Christians embracing Judaism. The Pro- 
testant's devotion to the study of the Hebrew language, 
and the extraordinary vogue which Cabbalistic mysticism 
had obtained among the early Reformers through Reuch- 
lin's books, encouraged this notion. But Luther assures 
them that " their hope is futile. 'Tis they must accept 
our religion, and of the crucified Christ, and overcome all 
their objections, especially that of the alteration of the 
Sabbath, which sorely annoys them, but 'twas ordered by 
the apostles, in honour of the Lord's resurrection." 3 

1 Ch. 869. 

2 Ch. 355. O Martin, Martin ! What of the " circumcision of the 
heart," to say nothing about Christian charity ? But this was in 15 4.1. 

3 Ch. 861. 


It was in vain that Luther changed his ground, and, 
abandoning his attacks on the religious prejudices of the 
Jews, turned his artillery against their racial pride, and 
endeavoured to prove that their vaunted purity of blood 
was a myth : 

" During the 70 years when they were captives at 
Babylon, they were so confused and mingled together, 
that even then they hardly knew out of what tribe each 
was descended. How should it be now, when they have 
been so long hunted and driven about by the Gentiles, 
whose soldiers spared neither their wives nor their 
daughters, so that now they are, as it were, all bastards, 
none of them knowing out of what tribe he is ? " 1 
Luther knew not that the sentiment of nationality 
depends far more on community of interests and 
aspirations, of memories of the past and hopes for 
the future, than on any physiological similarity of 

Nevertheless, despite his occasional successes, Luther 
himself was aware of the futility of his endeavours. He 
sorrowfully recognises the impossibility of reconciling 
Jew and Gentile : "In the porch of a Church at Cologne 
there is a statue of a dean, who, in the one hand holds a 
cat, and in the other a mouse. This dean had been a 
Jew, but was baptized, and became a Christian. He 
ordered this statue to be set up after his death, to show, 
that a Jew and a Christian agree as little as a cat and 
a mouse. And truly they hate us Christians as they do 
death." 2 

All these sentiments, accompanied with suggestions for 
the suppression of the miserable people, were embodied 
by Luther in his published pamphlets. 3 The Reformer's 
unmeasured hostility bears to the habitual tolerance 
of many popes the same relation as the mental horizon 
of the provincial monk does to the broader vision of the 
monarch of a great empire. 

iCh. 865. 2 Ch. 866. 

z Von den Juden und lhren Luegen (1544) is the title of one of these 
pamphlets. See H. Graetz, History of the Jews, vol. iv. pp. 583 


If Luther, the genial and joyous, entertained so unchari- 
table feelings towards the Jews, it is not difficult to 
understand the attitude of his morose and narrower 
successors, armed as they were by the sanction of his 
example. It has been well said, ' c the opinions of a great 
man are a valuable possession and a ruinous inheritance." 
The denunciations of Israel by the early Fathers of the 
Church had continued to dictate Christian intolerance 
through the ages, and their authority was quoted in 
support of the persecutions and massacres which sullied 
mediaeval Europe. Luther's utterances exercised a 
similar influence over the Protestant world, both in his 
own and in after times, down to the present day. Pro- 
testant Germany took up the tale of persecution in the 
sixteenth century where Catholic Germany had left off" in 
the fifteenth. The Jews were given the alternatives of 
baptism and banishment in Berlin, were expelled from 
Bavaria in 1553, from Brandenburg in 1573, and the 
tragedy of oppression was carried on through the ensuing 
centuries. How vigorously the plant of an ti- Judaism 
continued to flourish in Germany may be seen from the 
following incident. 

In about 1612 a Jewish jeweller, with a dozen friends, 
in search of a home, presented a petition to the Senate of 
Hamburg, offering nine thousand marks for the right 
of residence in the city for twelve years, promising to pay 
an annual tax of four hundred marks, and professing 
themselves ready to submit to any conditions. But 
Hamburg, the Protestant, refused to listen even to the 
argument which so frequently overcame Papist fanaticism. 
Hamburg already contained Portuguese Jews disguised as 
Christians. These, induced by the example of their 
brethren in Amsterdam, had recently thrown ofF the 
mask, and by so doing had accentuated the indignation of 
the Lutheran citizens against the whole race. The Senate, 
indeed, aware of the commercial value of the Jews, 
declined to yield to the popular demand for their 
expulsion. The clergy lifted up their voices against 
the Laodicean lukewarmness of the Government, and 
the latter, anxious to avoid the reproach of lack of 


Christian fervour on one hand, and, on the other, the 
material loss which the banishment of the Jews would 
entail, appealed to the theological faculties of Frankfort- 
on-the-Oder and Jena for a justification of their tolerance. 
These august bodies approved of the Senate's policy, 
but recommended the Jews of Hamburg to embrace 
Christianity. The Senate welcomed the approbation, 
ignored the recommendation, and granted to the Jews 
the right of abode on payment of one thousand marks 
a year, and subject to certain restrictions. For example, 
they were forbidden to have synagogues and to practise 
Jewish rites or circumcision, though they were allowed to 
have a cemetery of their own. As the colony grew in 
numbers, in wealth, and in commercial importance, it 
ventured to transgress many of these prohibitions. Relying 
on their power, the Jews of Hamburg quietly built a 
synagogue in about 1626. 

This humble and unobtrusive building, however, created 
a sensation out of all proportion to its intrinsic merits. 
1627 The Emperor, Ferdinand II., wrote an indignant letter to 
the Senate, complaining that the Jews should be allowed a 
freedom of worship which was denied to Roman Catholics. 
This shell from a Papist quarter set fire to the Lutheran 
powder magazine. The good ministers of Hamburg 
again lifted up their voices, and, with that middle-class 
logic which distinguishes Protestant controversialism, 
pointed out that, if the Jews were allowed freedom of 
worship, the same freedom should be accorded to Catholics 
— a monstrous absurdity, of course. The Lutheran 
clergy were reinforced by the Hamburg physicians, who 
nourished for their Jewish confreres the affection proverbial 
between men of a trade. The Senate, obliged to take 
cognisance of the clamour, summoned the Jews to give 
an account of themselves. They, with the sophistry of 
persecution and the confidence of wealth, replied that they 
had no synagogue, but only a house for prayer ; threaten- 
ing to leave Hamburg in a body, if they were forbidden 
the free exercise of their religion. The Senate was com- 
pelled to overlook the sophism, and to pay serious 
attention to the threat; the consequence being that, not 


only that synagogue was tolerated, but two more were 
built. 1 

The animosity of the Lutherans grew with the growth 
of Jewish prosperity. John Miller, Senior at St. Peter's 
Church, an Inquisitor in everything but name, preached a 
crusade from the pulpit and in the press. The humilia- 
tion of the Jews became by degrees a monomania with 
Miller. He could endure neither their feasts nor their 
fasts. Their rejoicings vexed him, and their wailings 
drove him mad. Their unbelief filled him with horror, 
and their obstinacy with despair. At last Miller vented I ^,. 
his feelings in a pamphlet remarkable for its pious 
scurrility. Three theological faculties endorsed Miller's 
teaching, and declared that it was contrary to sound 
religion to permit Jewish doctors to attend on Christian 
patients. But the crusade produced no other result than 
to show how faithfully Luther's spirit continued to animate 
German Protestantism in its dealings with the people 
whom the Reformer had so vehemently denounced in 
his lifetime. 

The position of the Jew in other parts of Germany was 
far worse than in the commercial city of Hamburg. He 
was still spurned and scorned, oppressed, reviled, and 
hunted more fiercely than any pariah. Few Jewish con- 
gregations were left. At Frankfort-on-the-Main Jews 
were allowed to live on terms usually accorded to convicts. 
They were forbidden to wander forth from their Ghetto, 
except on urgent business. They were forbidden to walk 
two together in the neighbourhood of the town-hall, 
especially during Christian festivals and weddings. Whilst 
in the Ghetto itself, they were forbidden to talk aloud, 
or to receive strangers without the knowledge of the 
magistrates. They were forbidden to buy victuals in the 
market at the same time as the Christians. Handicapped 
in the race for money, they were yet overburdened with 
taxes. Their persons were marked with a badge and their 
houses with grotesque shields of quasi-armorial character. 
Even this sorry existence was not assured to them, for 

1 For the history of the Hamburg Jews, see M. Grunwald's Hamburg s 
Deutsche Juden, 1904. 


the town council reserved to itself the power of expelling 
any Jew at pleasure. As usual, the Jews contrived to 
obtain by artifice that which was withheld by force. They 
* purchased indulgence, and the laws often remained mere 
memorials of Christian intolerance. But, while the 
magistrates derived profit from their merciful connivance, 
the guilds, which found formidable rivals in the Jews, 
strove to obtain their expulsion. The campaign was led 
by a brave and enthusiastic pastry-cook. 

Operations commenced on a certain September day in 
the year 1614. The Jews were at prayer, when a great 
noise was heard outside the gates of the Ghetto. A free 
fight ensued, the Christians, with the heroic pastry-cook 
at their head, assaulting ; the Jews defending. Many fell 
on both sides, until victory inclined towards the confec- 
tioner's army, and the quarters of the enemy were given 
up to plunder, destruction, and desecration, which lasted 
through the night. 1380 Jews, who had taken refuge in 
the burial ground, were for some time kept in suspense 
as to their fate, but were at last suffered to leave the city 
unencumbered by any property whatsoever. The pro- 
ceedings would have been more thoroughly reminiscent 
of the Middle Age but for the fact that, in spite of the 
inexorable pastry-cook's warnings, there were now found 
Christians humane enough to feed and to shelter the 
miserable exiles. The pastry-cook and his party ruled 
Frankfort with impunity for a whole year. 

Meanwhile similar things happened at Worms. There 
also the Jews were hated as competitors and detested as 
infidels ; but the anti-Jewish movement in that town was 
led by a learned lawyer; not by an honest, if stupid, 
confectioner. Consequently the warfare assumed a differ- 
ent character. Instead of open assault, the lawyer 
preferred a siege. He closed the outlets of the town to 
the Jews, and hindered them from procuring even milk 
for their children. These subtle preliminaries were 
followed by an ultimatum addressed to the Jews, bidding 
them to evacuate the city, bag and baggage, within an hour. 
1615 The wretches departed, leaving behind them their syna- 
gogues and cemeteries to the fury of the populace. The 


fugitives were allowed by the Archbishop of Mayence and 
the Count of Darmstadt to take up their abode in the 
villages and hamlets of the neighbourhood, where they 
met some of their brother-sufferers from Frankfort. 

Soon afterwards the Council of Worms, indignant at its 
humiliation, invited the Elector of the Palatinate to take 
possession of the town. The prince accepted the invita- 
tion, and a few months later the Jews were permitted to 
return. Not long after the Jews of Frankfort also were 
re-admitted by the Electorate of Mayence and Darmstadt, 
to the sound of trumpets. The heroic pastry-cook was 
hanged and quartered, his house was razed to the ground, 
and his family banished. The city was compelled by the 
Emperor to pay to the Jews a large indemnity for their 
losses and sufferings, and they expressed their joy by 
ordaining that the eve of their return should be observed 
as a fast and the day itself as a feast. However, the 
social position of the Jews both in Frankfort and in 
Worms remained the same. In both towns they con- 
tinued to live on sufferance. Only a limited number of 
families was allowed to reside, and only a limited number 
of individuals to marry. 

The terrible Thirty Years' War caused less suffering to 1 620-1 648 
the Jews of Protestant Germany than to the Christians. 
While Protestants and Catholics, animated by a spirit of 
intolerance and the lust for power, were eagerly butcher- 
ing each other and devastating each other's territories, 
the Jews made their fortunes by impartial speculations in 
the booty of both sides. Their opportunities must have 
been considerable; for it was during this war that the 
English and other European tongues were enriched with 
the German word " plunder." 



But if the Reformation brought with it Protestant 
hostility and new tribulations to the outcasts of humanity, 
it also proved the cause of fresh persecution on the part 
of Catholicism. Even while the Popes at Rome tolerated 
or cherished the Jews, their agents abroad, the wandering 
Friars, and all those soldiers of orthodoxy by whose 
fanatical zeal the fabric of Papal supremacy had been 
reared and was maintained, exerted themselves strenuously 
and furiously to oppose the spreading epidemic of 
rebellion. In their eyes the Jews were the most implac- 
able enemies of Christ and the eternal promoters of 
dissent and heresy. It was, therefore, against the Jews 
that they directed their deadliest shafts. The belief pre- 
vailed that the first step to the conquest of Judaism was 
the cremation of Jewish books, which after the invention 
of the printing press had multiplied. This new attack on 
Judaism, as so many other attacks in the past, was led 
by a renegade Jew, John Pfefferkorn by name, and a 
butcher by trade — also convicted of burglary and other- 
wise an unlimited miscreant. 1 This gentleman, acting in 
concert with the Dominicans of Cologne, obtained from 
the Emperor Maximilian authority to confiscate all 
I 5°9 Hebrew writings opposed to the Christian faith — a very 
comprehensive sentence which would have been carried 
out, but for the efforts made on behalf of literature 
and commonsense by John Reuchlin, the Father of 
German Humanism. This great scholar had restored 

1 On Pfefferkorn and Reuchlin see two papers by S. A. Hirsch in 
A Book of Essays (Macmillan, 1905). 


Hebrew and promoted Greek studies in Germany. He 
was attracted by Hebrew mysticism and had many friends 
among the Jews. In 1490, whilst on a visit in Italy, he 
had made the acquaintance of Pico de Mirandola whose 
Cabbalistic doctrines he embraced and expounded in his 
work De Verbo Mirifico. In 1492 he was employed on a 
mission to the Emperor at Linz, and it was there that he 
met Jacob Loans, the Emperor's Jewish physician, under 
whose guidance he began to read Hebrew. Although a 
good Catholic, Reuchlin was a broad-minded man, and 
his leaning to Cabbalistic theosophy and the esoteric 
wisdom of the Rabbis, without making him an admirer of 
the Jews as a people, induced him to defend their books. 
Summoned by Maximilian to express his opinion on 
PfefFerkorn's proposal, Reuchlin did so in a manner 
which, while saving the Jewish writings from the fire, 
exposed the defender to the utmost rigour of the dis- 
appointed Dominicans; from whose clutches, however, 
after a severe struggle, he was rescued by the enthusiastic 
assistance of his brother-humanists. 

The outbreak of the Lutheran rebellion paralysed the 
forces of Catholicism for a while. But it was not long 
ere the Papacy recovered from its panic. The latter half 
of the sixteenth, and the first half of the seventeenth 
century — the hundred years between the rise of the Order 
of Jesus and the peace of Westphalia — form a period 1 540-1 64.8 
of unprecedented activity for the conversion of the world 
to the one true faith. The Catholic sovereigns were 
at the zenith of their power and bigotry, and both their 
consciences and their swords lay under the absolute 
control of the Pope ; for on the triumph of Dogmatism 
depended the realisation of their own dreams of Des- 
potism at home and conquest abroad. On the other 
hand, Protestantism was grimly determined to conquer or 
die. If one half of Western Christendom was passionately 
attached to the traditions made dear by the familiarity 
of ages, the other half was no less passionately attracted 
by the novelty of the prospect which had just unfolded its 
charms to their vision. The result of this antagonism 
was the most faithful imitation of hell on earth that the 


modern world has witnessed. Europe, convulsed by- 
revolt and made desolate by barbarous repression, pre- 
sented a scene for which, fortunately, it would be hard 
to find a parallel even in the annals of civilised mankind. 
While the Inquisition was revelling in human hecatombs 
in Spain, the Spanish general Alva was ravaging heretical 
Holland, and a Spanish Armada was preparing to assail 
heretical England. Religious motives receded further and 
yet further into distance as time went on ; but the 
slaughter begun for the glory of God was continued for 
the love of power ; and those who were formerly burnt as 
heretics were now butchered as malcontents. The Titanic 
feud culminated in the Thirty Years' War, during which 
no fewer than ten millions of Christians were massacred 
in the name of Christ. 

The Treaty of Westphalia staunched the flow of blood 
for a moment, but did not heal the wound. Open 
violence was aided by patient intrigue, and the monks 
carried on the enterprise wherein monarchs had failed. 
Meanwhile, as though the legions of St. Dominic, of 
St. Francis, and the other monastic orders were not 
sufficient for the work of destruction, to them was added, 
as we have seen, the more formidable Society of Jesus. 
By this time also the Spanish Inquisition had accomplished 
its special mission of blotting out the Morescos and 
Marranos, and had entered into an alliance with Loyola's 
legion ; the two bodies forming together a two-edged 
sword in the hand of the Catholic reaction. 

Between Martin Luther and Ignatius Loyola there is 
commonly supposed to gape a very wide chasm. How- 
ever that may be, there is one point at which the two 
apostles meet — hatred of Israel. Loyola's disciples 
penetrated by degrees into every realm in Europe, and 
into every realm they brought with them that supple and 
sinuous spirit which was destined to dominate European 
history for ages, and to endow the European languages 
with a new word of evil import. In them Israel found an 
enemy powerful as Fate, and, like Fate, everywhere 
present, everywhere invisible and inexorable. Thus 
those Jews who had escaped from the zeal of nascent 


Protestantism were doomed to fall a prey to the zeal of 
reanimated Catholicism. 

As in Italy, so in Central Europe, the reign of Pope 
Paul IV. marks the revival of Catholic Obscurantism. In 
1557 the Inquisition was introduced into France under 
Henry II. — a prince who could be profligate without being 
gay, and who atoned for his gloomy immorality by so 
genuine a horror of heresy and culture that at his acces- 
sion both Huguenots and scholars thought it advisable to 
quit Paris. In 1559 — four years after the creation of the 
Ghetto in Rome — all Hebrew books were confiscated in 
Prague, at the instigation of a baptized Jew named Asher. 
A fire that soon after broke out in the Jewish quarter 
afforded the Catholics of Prague an opportunity of 
exhibiting their piety. They plundered the nouses of the 
Jews, and even threw their women and children into the 
flames. At the same time the Emperor Ferdinand I. 
ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Prague and the 
rest of Bohemia, imposed many restrictions on those of 
Austria, and drove them from Lower Austria. Ten years 1569 
later the Jews of Avignon and Venaissin, which, besides 
Marseilles, were the only communities left in France after 
the expulsion of 1395, and which, favoured by the 
enlightened Popes Leo X., Clement VII., and Paul III., 
had acquired great wealth, were ordered to quit the 
country, and, like the refugees from Spain and Italy, 
they sought and found a haven of refuge in the Sultan's 

During the Thirty Years' War the Catholic Emperor 1 620-1648 
Ferdinand II. protected the Jews, forbidding their coffers 
to be robbed except by himself. The Bohemian Jews 
alone, after having paid a certain sum, are known to have 
bound themselves to contribute forty thousand gulden a 
year towards the expenses of the war. In Vienna also, 
now the headquarters of Catholicism, the Jews were 
allowed to grow fat. The Emperor permitted them to 1624 
build a synagogue and to discard the badge; but the 
Christian citizens protested, demanding their banishment. 
In face of this opposition the Court acted with admirable 
tact. To the Christians it said : " You shall see the Jews 


banished, if you pay twenty thousand florins," and to the 
Jews it whispered : " You need not fear, if you pay 
more." To judge from the result, the Jews must have 
outbidden the Christians. 

Not long after, at Prague, an internal feud between 
rival factions of the Jewish community led to the inter- 
ference of the authorities, and the Emperor ordered that 

1630 the Jews should every Sunday morning submit to 
sermons preached for their conversion. Absentees were 
fined a thaler a head, and a higher sum on repetition of 
the offence. Inattention and slumber during the per- 
formance were also visited with a fine. However, the 
Jews had not suffered through so many centuries without 
learning how to dull the edge of persecution. Corrupt 
courtiers defeated the devout Emperor's policy, and the 
Jews were allowed to remain in spiritual darkness and 
in peace. 

Despite this cruel treatment, the Jews of Prague fought 
valiantly in defence of the city against the Swedes, and in 

1648 recognition of their loyalty and gallantry received from 
the Emperor, Ferdinand III., an imperial standard which 
can still be seen in the old synagogue of the town. 

In the meantime the Jesuits continued their restless, 
though noiseless, campaign. Even the one traditional 
refuge of Israel in Europe was poisoned by their 
preaching. In Poland the Jews had for centuries pros- 
pered and enjoyed a kind of autonomy. The Kings 
protected them, and the nobility, thriftless and extravagant 
itself, found the sober, industrious, and keen-witted Jews 
invaluable as bailiffs and financial advisers. Beneath the 
wing of princes and nobles the Jews acquired great 
influence. It was to this influence precisely that the 
Jesuits attributed the rise of heresy in that country, and 
it was this influence that they now decided to use as a 
means to their undoing. The rivers of bitterness that 
flowed from the Stygian fountain of Jesuitism found the 
field ready to be fertilised. The German traders and 
artisans, settled in various parts of Poland, had already 
encountered in the Jews formidable rivals. Commercial 
envy was invigorated by the pious prejudices which these 


immigrants had imported, along with their guilds, from 

the Fatherland ; and these feelings often induced them to 

make common cause with the clergy. Under the joint 

pressure of the two classes, Casimir the Great's successors 

had deprived the Jews of their privileges and confined 

them to special quarters, or even expelled them from 1496-1505 

certain towns. A period of toleration came with Sigis- 

mund I. This sovereign's good-will towards the Jews 1507-! 54-8 

was aided by the Polish nobles, who, hating the Germans 

bitterly, were glad to support their rivals — an inclination 

which they had ample means of gratifying, as the execution 

of the anti-Jewish laws was largely in their own hands. 

Thanks to the friendship of the nobility Poland continued 

to offer an asylum to the persecuted children of 


Stephen Bathori, who was elected to the Polish throne 1 575-1 586 
three years after the death of Sigismund Augustus, the last 
native King of Poland, showed great favour to the Jews. 
He guarded the race in Lithuania against the effects of 
the blood-accusation, and bestowed many benefits upon 
them, to the disgust of his Christian subjects, who in 
Poland, as elsewhere, envied the Jews for their prosperity 
and hated them for their usury and arrogance. This 
prosperity lasted even under Sigismund III., a zealous 1587-1632 
Catholic brought up by Jesuits. He confirmed to the 
Jews their ancient privileges, but introduced a measure 
indicating his religious bias and fraught with disastrous 
possibilities. He ordained that for the building of a new 159 2 
synagogue the permission of the Church should be 
obtained. About this time the Reformation had lost 
much of its vigour in Germany ; but in Poland, through 
the German immigrants, it was beginning to create a great 
spiritual agitation and to find favour among the nobles. 
Some of the Polish sectarians went to the extreme of 
Unitarianism and were stigmatised as semi-Judaei. 

To all these sources of danger for the Jews — the hatred 
towards them entertained by the natives on account of 
their usurious extortions, by the Germans on account of 
their commercial ability, by the Jesuits on account of their 
infidelity, and of the Judaic proclivities of some of the 


Dissenters — was added another, which proved the imme- 
diate cause of persecution. 

Upon the banks of the lower Dnieper and the north 
shore of the Black Sea there gradually arose several 
colonies or settlements formed pardy by runaway slaves 
and convicts in quest of freedom, and partly by adven- 
turers from many countries and classes in quest of fortune. 
These were the ancestors of the Cossack race. Their life 
was such as their antecedents promised. Independent and 
idle, they knew only one industry — brigandage. The 
exercise of this industry brought them into frequent 
collision with their Tartar neighbours and supplied them 
with their one recreation — war. The Kings of Poland, 
thinking to make use of these hardened and reckless 
outlaws for the defence of their eastern frontiers, granted 
to them a semi-autonomous constitution under a freely 
elected hetman or chieftain. Unfortunately the Cossacks 
were for the most part members of the Eastern Church, 
and were therefore hated by the Jesuits, who, after having 
crushed the Polish heretics, turned their attention to 
these schismatics. King Sigismund III. began the crusade 
by oppressing the colonists with heavy taxes. 

Now, these colonies were under the control of several 
noble Polish families which sold the lease of the imposts to 
their Jewish bailiffs. The latter were intended to act the 
part for which the training of a thousand years had so 
well qualified them — the part of the sponge. Thanks to 
this arrangement, Jewish communities rapidly sprang up 
and spread in the Ukraine and Little Russia, and to them 
was entrusted the odious privilege of collecting and even 
of inventing taxes. How galling these burdens were may 
be gathered from the following example : The Cossacks 
were bound to pay a duty on every new-born infant and 
on every wedding. As a safeguard against evasion, the 
Jewish tax-farmers kept the keys of the churches, and on 
each wedding or baptism the clergyman was obliged to 
apply to them for admittance into his own church. Nor 
were these tax-farmers scrupulous or lenient in the exer- 
cise of their privileges. Slaves to everybody else, they 
were eager to play the despots over those whom fate had 


placed under themselves. In their lust for profit and 
power, they readily helped the nobles in plundering and 
the Jesuits in tormenting the Cossacks. Hence the 
position of the Jews in the Ukraine and Little Russia 
became one of extreme danger, and the resentment which 
their conduct excited soon translated itself into acts of 
vengeance. And vengeance, when it fell on Jews, did not 
restrict itself to the individuals who had deserved it. 
" All Israelites are surety one for the other " was the 
Rabbinic motto of solidarity. The Cossacks were now to 
give a new meaning to this maxim. Where single units 
had offended, whole communities were punished. 

During a brief revolt of the Cossacks, in 1638, 
two hundred Jews were slain and several synagogues 
destroyed. The Jews, not warned by this omen, con- 
tinued to provoke severer punishment with a recklessness 
which was partly derived from the belief in the near advent 
of the Messiah. The year 1648 had been fixed by the 
mystics as the era of triumph and universal sovereignty 
for Israel. 1 The expected date came, but it brought with 
it, not redemption, but retribution. In that year there 
broke out an insurrection led by a Cossack who, having 
been cheated out of his wife and property by a Jew, had 
no cause to love the race. Chmielnicki, in declaring to 
his compatriots that "they had been delivered by the 
Poles into bondage to the cursed breed of the Jews," 
was voicing their wrongs with a conviction deepened by 
personal suffering. 

After their first victory, the wild Cossacks let them- 
selves loose upon the Jews, many of whom were massacred, 
while others saved themselves by embracing the Orthodox 
faith. Four Jewish communities, in their anxiety to escape 
death, gave themselves and their belongings up to the 
Tartars, who accepted the gift and sold the givers as 
slaves in Turkey, where they were ransomed by their 
brethren. The rebellion continued with a ferocity and 
ruthlessness such as might have been expected from the 
character of the rebels and the magnitude of the wrongs 
which they had to avenge. Long oppressed by Papists 
iSee above, p. 175. 


and Jews, in skying them they not only gratified their 
personal animosity, but felt that they were chastising the 
enemies of their Church. In this somewhat hackneyed 
work they displayed considerable originality and variety 
of cruelty. Every guerilla chief had his own favourite 
instrument of torture ; one of them affecting the lasso, 
by which the women of the enemy were caught and 
dragged to shame. 

Shortly after the first victory, a detachment of Cossacks 
captured by stratagem a fortress where six thousand Jews 
had taken refuge, and put them all to torture and death. 
Another detachment attacked a town harbouring six hun- 
dred Polish nobles and two thousand Jews. The two 
classes, bound together by a common danger, offered a 
stout resistance, until the crafty Cossacks succeeded in 
dividing them. They assured the nobles that their sole 
object was to punish the Jews, promising to withdraw 
if the latter were surrendered to them. The Jews were 
persuaded to deliver up their arms ; the Cossacks were 
admitted into the town, robbed the Jews of all their 
belongings, and then set before them the alternative of 
baptism or death. Three-fourths of the whole com- 
munity were tortured and executed. Then the Cossacks 
turned their wrath against the Polish nobles, whom they 
easily overpowered and slaughtered. 

A third body of insurgents was at the same time 
wreaking a similar vengeance upon the Jews of Little 
Russia, where many thousands perished, and the havoc 
spread as widely as the rebellion, until the whole country, 
from South Ukraine to Lemberg, was marked with traces 
of massacre — here in pools of Jewish and Polish blood, 
there in heaps of Jewish and Polish bodies. At last peace 
1 649 Aug. was concluded on condition that no Papist or Jew should 
reside in the Cossack provinces. 

Meanwhile thousands of Jewish fugitives who had 
saved their lives by baptism, of women who had been 
violated by the Cossacks, and of children whose 
parents had been slaughtered, swarmed into Poland, 
where King John Casimir allowed them to return 
to Judaism, for, being a Roman Catholic himself, he 


naturally regarded the Greek baptism as worse than 

After a few months' pause the war between the 
Cossacks and the Poles broke out anew, and it was now 
transferred to Polish territory. Again the first victims 
were Jews, but the slaughter was necessarily limited by 
the comparatively small number of people left to slay. 
This second rebellion ended in the defeat of the Cossacks, 1651 Nov. 
and one of the terms of peace was that the Jews should 
be allowed to settle again, and resume their financial 
oppression, in the Ukraine. However, the Cossacks felt 
bound by the treaty only so long as they felt unable to 
break it. As soon as the opportunity offered, they once 
more raised the standard of revolt, and Chmielnicki, aided 
by the Russians, carried victory and devastation far and 1654-1655 
wide. The Jews who were beyond the reach of the 
Cossacks succumbed to the fury of their Russian allies, 
and thus the community of Wilna was completely 
wiped out. 

Then to the enemies of Poland was added Charles X. 
of Sweden, Charles XII. 's grandfather ; "a great and 
mighty man, lion of the North in his time." The battle 1656 
of Warsaw, which lasted three days, resulted in a splendid 
victory for this " imperious, stern-browed, swift-striking 
man, who had dreamed of a new Goth empire." In that 
battle the chivalry of Poland was broken, and John 
Casimir, the most brilliant cavalier of all, was nearly 
ruined. The Jewish communities which had been spared 
by Cossack and Russian were impoverished by the Swede. 
But even this fresh calamity did not exhaust the measure 
of their woes. Those who had escaped slaughter at the 
hands of Cossacks, Russians, and Swedes were now 
exposed to the hatred of the Polish general, Czarnicki, 
who attacked them on the ground that they had acted in 
collusion with the Swedish invaders. And while Poland 
was turned into a vast battlefield, whereon the nations cut 
each other's throat, the Jews were treated as common foes 
by all. During these ten years of international man- 
slaughter, no fewer than a quarter of a million of Polish 
Jews were massacred. 



The humiliation of Poland brought lasting ruin to the 
Jews. Fugitives, reduced to the verge of starvation, 
were scattered over Europe seeking shelter — from 
Amsterdam and the Rhine in the north and west, to Italy, 
Hungary, and Turkey in the south and east. Every- 
where they were welcomed by their brethren, who fed 
and clothed them, and many of the funds intended for 
the maintenance of the Jews in Palestine were diverted to 
the relief of these helpless wanderers. 

In the midst of their sufferings the Polish Jews heard 
of the Messiah of Smyrna. One of Sabbatai Zebi's 
apostles, Jacob Leibovicz Frank by name, founded a 
curious sect, which, among other things, believed in a 
kind of Trinity, abolished the Law, and carried on a fierce 
warfare against the orthodox Rabbis. In the middle of 
the eighteenth century these Frankist dissenters revived 
one of the ancient denunciations of the Talmud, and tried 
to induce the Polish Government to confiscate all the 
Rabbinical writings. But finally, as Sabbatai and his 
immediate followers in Turkey were absorbed by Islam, 
so Frank's disciples were absorbed by Catholicism. 

While the Jews of Poland were sinking into destitution 
or flying into exile, their brethren of Austria also were 
experiencing the hatred of the Jesuits. At the instiga- 
tion of the latter the Empress Margaret demanded their 
1669 banishment from Vienna. The Emperor Leopold I. was 
at first averse from the measure, because he derived an 
annual revenue of 50,000 florins from the Austrian Jews. 
But the Empress insisted, her fanaticism receiving fresh 
impulse from a narrow escape which, she had experienced 
at a ball accident. Attributing her preservation to a 
miraculous intervention of the Deity, she was anxious 
to show her gratitude by a sacrifice of the Jews, whom 
her father confessor had taught her to regard as the 
enemies of Heaven. The piety of the Empress proved 
too powerful for her consort's avarice. Leopold yielded 
at last, and the Jews were ordered to leave Vienna. In 
vain did they try prayers and presents. In vain did they 
turn every stone both at home and abroad. Their gifts 
were accepted by the Emperor and Empress, but the 


decree remained unrevoked, for the influence of the 
Jesuits was invincible. The Jews had to go and seek 1670 
new homes in Moravia, Bohemia, and Poland. Their 
quarter was bought by the magistrates of Vienna for 
the Emperor, and was christened Leopoldstadt. Their 
synagogue was levelled to the ground. On its site was 
built a church dedicated to the Emperor's patron saint; 
and the glorious event was commemorated by a golden 
tablet whereon the Jewish house for prayer was described 
as a " charnel-house." 

The degradation of Israel was now complete. Perse- 
cution, cruel and, through all changes, consistent beyond 
a parallel in history, had at last achieved its demoralising 
work. The Jews, treated as pariahs throughout Southern 
and Central Europe, lost all feeling of self-respect. 
Spurned and dishonoured everywhere, they became day 
after day more and more worthy of contempt : slovenly 
in dress and dialect, dead to all sense of beauty or honesty, 
treacherous, and utterly broken in spirit. "Zeus takes 
away the half of his manhood from a man, when the day 
of slavery overtakes him," says the wise old poet. The 
Jews now furnished a melancholy proof of the truth 
of the saying. Among the other gifts of servitude 
they acquired that of cringing cowardice. So little 
manliness was left in them that they, who had once 
astonished Rome with their dogged valour, dared not 
defend themselves even against the attacks of a street 
urchin ; and the prophet's terrible prediction was fulfilled : 
" You shall speak humbly from the ground, and from the 
dust shall proceed your word." 

The dispersion of the Polish refugees over Europe 
resulted in the subjugation of Judaism in all countries to 
the sophistical and soulless teaching of Polish Talmudism. 
The long-ringleted Rabbis of Poland carried into every 
country their narrow subtlety and hatred of secular 
studies, so that at a time when the Middle Age was 
passing away from Christendom they restored it to 

From the sixteenth century the Jews fell completely 
under the domination of the Synagogue. Having 


abandoned all hope of being allowed to participate in 
the life of the Gentiles, they withdrew more and more 
severely behind the old moat by which their ancestors 
had surrounded themselves. Tribalism was their only 
alternative to utter extinction ; and they seized upon it, 
nothing loth. They grew fanatical, entrusted the educa- 
tion of their children to none but the Polish Rabbis, 
clung to their bastard Germano-Hebrew jargon (Jiidisch- 
Deutsch or "Yiddish"), and even in writing a European 
language they employed the Hebrew characters. The 
Jewish literature of the period reflects the social and 
intellectual condition of the race. When it deals not 
with subjects of Biblical exegesis, it consists of rude 
popular songs and stories drawn from Talmudic and 
Cabbalistic sources or from German and Oriental folk- 
lore. But this Cimmerian darkness contained in it the 
promise of a dawn. The light of the eighteenth century 
was sooner or later to penetrate the mists of bigotry 
and to bring the Jewish Middle Age to an end. For 
while the Jew shares the general effects which persecution 
long drawn out inflicts, yet there is in him a power of 
resiliency which is his own peculiar possession and which 
saves him from falling permanently into the slough of 
degradation and disgrace. This power he derives in part 
from his religion, in part from his history. His religion 
gives him stedfastness ; his history teaches him to hope. 



Holland was at this time the one European country in 
which man was allowed to worship his Maker according to 
the dictates of his conscience. Commercial activity in 
Europe has always been accompanied, or followed, by 
speculative freedom, and where these two forms of national 
vigour flourish religious bigotry languishes. The Dutch, 
like the Italians, and even in a higher degree, had from the 
earliest times shown a spirit of insubordination to papal 
authority. The decrees of the Holy See had frequently 
met with a stubborn resistance in which beggars and 
princes, prelates and burgesses heartily participated. The 
long feud between Guelf and Ghibelline, stirred up by 
Gregory Hildebrand's overweening ambition, had found 
both the people and the clergy of Holland on the side 
of the Pope's enemies. And not only the decrees but 
also the doctrines of Rome had often failed to command 
obedience in this undutiful daughter of the Church, who 
from the very first lent an attentive ear to the whisperings 
of infidelity. All the heresies that sprang up in Europe 
from the beginning of the twelfth century to the beginning 
of the sixteenth — from Tanchelyn to Luther — had been 
welcomed by the Dutch. WicklifFe found numerous 
sympathisers in the Netherlands; and the victims of 
the Holy See eager avengers. Many Hollanders, who 
had taken part in the crusade against Huss and his 
followers in Bohemia, returned home horror-struck at the 
cruelty of those under whose banner they had fought. 
Scepticism grew with the growth of ecclesiastical depra- 
vity and persecution with the growth of ecclesiastical 


authority, so that in no other region, not even excepting 
Spain, was the infernal ingenuity of the Inquisition more 
severely taxed than in Holland. It was here that the 
longest anathemas were pronounced, and the most hideous 
tortures endured. The annual returns of the banned, 
fleeced, flayed, and burnt, amounted to thousands. But 
at last tyranny bred despair, and despair rebellion. People 
and nobility were united in a common cause. If the 
burgesses hated the priests for their persecuting spirit, the 
barons hated them as cordially for the wealth and power 
which they had contrived to usurp. And then came the 
invention of the printing press to prepare the way for 
the great day of the Reformation, on which was signed 
the death-warrant of mediaeval Catholicism. 

In Holland alone rebellion did not degenerate into a 
new species of despotism. While the hidalgos of Castile, 
impelled by lust for glory and gold, carried into a new 
world the cross and the cruelty of the old, conquering 
kingdoms for Charles and Philip, souls for Christ and 
wealth for themselves ; while even in England one 
sovereign was engaged in persecuting Popery, another 
Puritanism, and a third both, the citizens of the Nether- 
lands were laying the foundations of a less splendid but 
far more solid prosperity. As in the Venetian, so in the 
Dutch Republic, integrity and intelligence in the individual 
were esteemed more highly than orthodoxy, and an 
extensive commerce was regarded as more valuable to the 
State than a rigid creed — an attitude which earned the 
Hollanders a reputation for worldly weakliness and carnal 
self-seeking among our stern upholders of sanctity and 
inspired their brother-Protestants of Barebone's Parliament 
to denounce them as enemies of Christ. Briefly, the 
Dutch had never submitted to the suicidal necessity of 
extinguishing liberty at home in order to achieve greatness 
abroad, nor had they subscribed to the mad doctrine 
which, under one form or another, had obsessed Europe 
during so many centuries : that it is a good man's duty to 
make a hell of this world in order to inherit paradise in 
the next. 

It was in Holland, accordingly, that the Jews of Spain 


and Portugal, fleeing from the holocausts of the Holy 
Office, found a harbour of safety. Whilst the Netherlands 
lay under Spanish rule these emigrants were repeatedly 
expelled from various Dutch cities, owing to the citizens' 
dread of seeing the Inquisition — which had been intro- 
duced into the country by Charles V. in 1522 — established 
amongst them. But the liberation from the foreign yoke 
was to change all this — not without a struggle. In 1591 
a Jewish consul of the Sultan of Morocco proposed to 
the burgesses of Middelburg that they should permit the 
Portuguese Marranos to settle in their town. The shrewd 
burgesses would gladly have welcomed these commercial 
allies, but they were obliged to yield to the prejudices of 
the Protestant clergy, not unnaturally embittered by their 
long fight for liberty. The opposition, however, was 
short-lived. The Dutch recognised kindred spirits in the 
Jews. They shared their implacable hatred of the Spanish 
tyrant and of Catholicism, as they shared their aptitude 
for trade. Under William of Orange the dream of 
toleration became a political reality, and in 1593 the 
first contingent of Portuguese pseudo-Christians landed 
at Amsterdam. 

But, though the flames of the Qjuemadero had been left 
far behind, the fear which centuries of ill-usage had 
instilled into the Jews' hearts remained with them. The 
secrecy, with which these hunted refugees at first deemed 
it necessary to meet and worship, excited the suspicion of 
their Christian neighbours, who, not unreasonably, con- 
cluding that so many precautions covered a sinister design, 
informed the authorities. On the Fast of Atonement the 
Jews, while at prayer, were surprised by armed men. 1596 
The appearance of these myrmidons awakened memories 
of the Inquisition in the breasts of the worshippers, who 
fled, thereby deepening the suspicion. And while the 
Jews were trying to escape from imaginary Papists, the 
Dutch officers searched the Jewish prayer-house for 
crucifices and wafers. An explanation ensued, the 
prisoners were released, and the congregation returned to 
its devotions. After this incident, which made it clear to 
the Dutch that the Marranos were not Papist conspirators, * 


but only harmless hypocrites, the latter were allowed to 
stay, under certain restrictions, and a synagogue was 
inaugurated in 1598 amid great enthusiasm. 

The good news drew more refugees from Spain and 
Portugal to Holland. The persecuted crypto-Jews of 
the Peninsula began to look upon Amsterdam as a new 
Jerusalem, or rather as a new world — so different and 
so novel was the treatment which they met with there 
from that to which they were accustomed in every other 
Christian country. To Amsterdam, therefore, they con- 
tinued to flee from the racks and the stakes of the 
Inquisition — men, women, and even monks — in ever 
increasing numbers, so that a new synagogue had to 
be built in 1608. Six years afterwards they secured a 
burial ground in the neighbourhood of the town. The 
community rejoiced exceedingly in the acquisition of this 
cemetery, though on every body carried thither they had 
to pay a tax to each church that the funeral procession 
passed on its way. Tolerated though they were, these 
Peninsular exiles were still distrusted by the common 
people as Catholic spies in disguise, and it was not 
till 1 61 5 that they were officially recognised as settlers 
and traders. Before long a Hebrew printing press was 
established in Amsterdam, and gradually mere tolerance 
grew into warm welcome. The community was about 
this time joined by immigrants driven out of Germany by 
the ravages of the Thirty-Years' War. These German 
Jews formed the mob of the colony; despised by their 
cultured brethren as uncouth and, in turn, despising 
them as spurious Jews. Hence arose a schism, and the 
German section set up a synagogue of their own. But 
community of creed and the subtle affinity of blood, 
reinforced by the necessity of presenting a united front to 
a hostile world, overcame the prejudices of class, and a 
reconciliation was effected in 1639. Amsterdam speedily 
became the seat of a prosperous and united Hebrew 
congregation, and the stronghold of a vigorous and 
uncompromising Judaism. The colony consisted of men 
and women, everyone of whom had suffered for the faith. 
It was natural, therefore, that they should strive to 


safeguard by all means in their power a treasure pre- 
served at so enormous a cost of blood and tears. Faith, 
unfortunately, is not far removed from fanaticism, and 
the victims of tyranny are only too prone to become its 
ministers. The Jews of Amsterdam had undergone a 
long and severe course in the most distinguished school 
of cruelty and bigotry, and it is no wonder if they 
graduated with high honours. The Rabbis enjoyed an 
immense power over the souls and the purses of their 
disciples ; they levied heavy fines upon members of the 
Synagogue who incurred their displeasure; and in their 
promptitude to stifle freedom of thought they rivalled the 
Satraps of the Church. A sad illustration of Hebrew 
intolerance is supplied by the story of the hapless Uriel 

He was a gentleman of Oporto, one of those Marranos 
whose fathers had been taught to love Christ by torture, 
and who had bought the right of residence in their 
native land by baptism. Though brought up as a devout 
Catholic and destined for a clerical career, Uriel was 
repelled by the mechanical formalities of Catholicism, and 
he reverted to the old faith ; thus escaping from the meshes 161 7 
of the Church only to fall into those of the Synagogue. 
On his arrival at Amsterdam the idealist was rudely 
awakened to the meanness of reality. He found actual 
Judaism widely different from the picture which his vivid 
imagination had drawn of it, and he was, unfortunately for 
himself, too honest to conceal his disappointment. The 
independence of character which had induced Uriel to 
give up social position, home, and fortune for the sake 
of conscience, also caused him to disagree with the 
pious mummeries of the Hebrew priests. A long contest 
between the individual and the institution ended in an 
inglorious victory for the latter. Uriel Acosta's rebellion 
was visited with excommunication and social ostracism. 
He was figuratively extinguished in more senses than one. 
All his friends and relatives shunned him as a leper, or 
rather ignored him as if he had ceased to exist. It was 
death in life. 

Alone in a city whose language he could not speak,. 


stoned by those for whom he had sacrificed all, 
spurned even by his nearest and dearest, Uriel was 
driven to the publication of a book which cost him 
imprisonment and a fine ; for the Rabbis denounced it to 
the Dutch authorities as hostile not only to Judaism, but 
also to Christianity. This widened the breach between 
him and his brethren. Thus fifteen years of misery and 
loneliness dragged on, till, unable to bear his awful 
isolation any longer, this poor outcast from a people 
of outcasts tried to regain the favour of the Synagogue 
1633 and the society of his fellow-men by feigned repentance. 
There ended the second part of the trilogy. The 
third began when Uriel's simulated conversion was 
seen through. The discovery led to new persecution 
and insults innumerable. He was again ostracized by 
his relatives, robbed of his betrothed, and excommuni- 
cated by the Synagogue. 

Seven years of suffering elapsed, and the victim at 
last, worn out by a fight to which his sensitive nature 
was unequal, prematurely aged and longing for rest, 
once more offered to sign a recantation. Pardon was 
granted, but not without terrible penalties and fresh 
humiliation. The penitent was made to read aloud 
his confession of sin; he was subjected to a public 
castigation — thirty-nine lashes — and was obliged to lie 
prone across the threshold of the synagogue for all 
the congregation to walk over and trample upon him. 
This disgrace drove Uriel to despair, attempt at murder, 
and suicide. 

These things happened in 1640. In the ensuing 
year John Evelyn, whom we have seen at Venice, paid 
a visit to the community — probably to the very syna- 
gogue — that had witnessed poor Uriel's sufferings, and 
he enters his impressions in his Diary as follows : 

"August 19. Next day I returned to Amsterdam, 
where I went to a synagogue of the Jews, being 
Saturday; the ceremonies, ornaments, lamps, law, and 
scrolls afforded matter for my wonder and enquiry. 
The women were secluded from the men, being seated 
above in galleries, and having their heads muffled with 


linnen after a fantastical and somewhat extraordinary 

"They have a separate burying-ground, full of sepulchres 
with Hebrew inscriptions, some of them very stately. 
In one, looking through a narrow crevice, I perceived 
divers bookes lye about a corpse, for it seems when 
any learned Rabbi dies, they bury some of his books 
with him. With the help of a stick I raked out some 
of the leaves, written in Hebrew characters, but much 

" Aug. 28. I was brought acquainted with a Burgundian 
Jew who. had married an apostate Kentish woman. 
I asked him divers questions; he told me, amongst 
other things, that the world should never end, that 
our souls transmigrated, and that even those of the 
most holy persons did pennance in the bodies of 
bruits after death, and so he interpreted the banishment 
and salvage life of Nebucodnezer ; that all the Jews 
should rise again, and be lead to Jerusalem. . . . He 
showed me severall bookes of their devotion, which he 
had translated into English for the instruction of his 
wife; he told me that when the Messias came, all the 
ships, barkes, and vessels of Holland should, by the 
powere of certain strange whirle-winds be loosed from 
their ankers and transported in a moment to all the 
desolat ports and havens throughout the world where- 
ever the dispersion was, to convey their breathren and 
tribes to the Holy Citty; with other such like stuff. 
He was a merry drunken fellow." It was the age 
of Messianic dreams. Oppression had kindled the long- 
ing for deliverance, and the Jews all over Europe were 
eagerly looking to the advent of the Redeemer : an 
expectation which in the minds of the untutored and 
the enthusiastic took strange shapes. But even then 
there were Jews affected by other than Messianic 

In the Dutch synagogue which Evelyn visited on 
that Saturday in August 1641, he may perhaps have 
seen a boy ; a wide-eyed, thoughtful little Hebrew of 
some nine years of age. Evelyn would have fixed his 


intelligent gaze upon that child's face, had he had any 
means of divining that the diminutive Hebrew body- 
before him clothed a soul destined to open new doors 
of light to Christian Europe. The boy was Baruch 
Spinoza, born on the 24th of November, 1632, of 
parents who, for their faith, had given up wealth and 
a happy home in sunny Spain, and had sought freedom 
on the foggy shores of the North Sea. Rabbinical 
lore was young Spinoza's first study ; mediaeval Hebrew 
wisdom, largely made up of Messianic and Cabbalistic 
mists, his next ; to be followed by the profane philosophy 
of Descartes : altogether a singular blend of mental 
nutriment, yet all assimilated and transformed by young 
Baruch's brain ; a multitude of diverse guides, yet all 
leading the original mind the same way — not quite 
their way. Study bred independent thought, and inde- 
pendent thought translated itself into independent action. 
Baruch ceased to frequent the synagogue ; for the 
synagogue had ceased to supply him with the food 
for which his soul craved. A bribe of 1,000 florins 
a year was offered by the Rabbis, but was firmly 
1656 rejected ; excommunication followed, and curses many 
and minute, not unaccompanied by an attempt at 
assassination ; but they were serenely disregarded. Baruch 
was not Uriel. For answer he translated himself 
into Benedictus, and the name was not a misnomer; 
for he was soon to become known as one of the 
kindliest of men, as well as one of the deepest and 
boldest of thinkers that our modern world has seen. 

When the two goddesses appeared to Spinoza, as 
they do to every one of us once in our lives : the 
one plump and proud and persuasively fair, the other 
modest of look, reverent, and unadorned ; and they 
offered to the young Jew of Amsterdam the momentous 
option of paths, he did not long hesitate in his choice. 
Turning his back upon the world, and a deaf ear to 
its Siren songs of success, he chose to earn a modest 
livelihood by making lenses. Too honest to accept 
the Synagogue's price for hypocrisy, he was too proud 
even to accept the gifts of disinterested friendship and 


admiration, and too fond of his freedom to accept even 
a professorial chair of Philosophy. Like his great con- 
temporary and compatriot Rembrandt, Spinoza was 
incapable of complying with the world's behests or of 
adapting himself to its standards. The public did not 
inspire him, and its applause left him profoundly 
unmoved. He scorned the smiles as much as the 
frowns of Fortune, and calmly pursued his own 
path, undaunted by obloquy, unseduced by temptation : 
a veritable Socrates of a man, voluntarily and 
wholly devoted to the humble service of Truth. 
In meditation he found his heart's delight, and, while 
grinding glasses for optical instruments in his solitary 
attic, he excogitated other aids for the eye of man. 
A quiet pipe of tobacco, a friendly chat with his 
landlord or his fellow-lodgers and their children, and, 
when bent on more violent dissipation, a single-combat 
between two spiders, or the antics of a foolish fly 
entangled in their toils, furnished the cheerful ascetic 
with abundant diversion. On those last occasions, his 
biographer tells us, "he would sometimes break into 
laughter." And having lived his own life, Spinoza 
died as those die whom the Olympians love : in the 1677 
meridian of manhood and intellectual vigour, leaving 
behind him the memory of a blameless character to 
his friends, and the fruits of a mighty genius to the 
world at large. For the goddess to whom he had 
dedicated his whole life did not despise the sacrifice. 

Every man who is born into this world is either a 
Greek or a Jew. Spinoza was both. His teaching 
may be described as a recapitulation of the world's 
thought. Hellenic rationalism and Hebrew mysticism 
found in his work an organic union. Briefly stated, 
the lesson which the Jewish sage taught the 
Western mind, like all great lessons, was a very 
simple one : that man is not the centre of creation ; 
that the universe is a bigger affair than the earth ; 
and that man holds an exceedingly small place even on 
this small atom of a planet. Old Europe was gradually 
growing to the suspicion that one book did not contain 


the whole of God's truth between its covers — that it 
did not constitute a final manifestation of the will of 
God. She was now to hear, much to her astonishment 
and indignation, that the human race did not engross 
the whole attention of Providence. It was an elementary 
lesson enough ; but it came as a revelation even to 
minds like Lessing's and Goethe's. It was a salutary 
lesson, too ; but it was too new to be recognised as 
such. Man is a creature of conceit ; the 'Tractatus 
would teach him humility. Therefore, the Synagogue 
anathematized it, Synodical wisdom condemned it, the 
States-general interdicted it, the Catholic Church placed 
it upon the Index : they all execrated it ; none of 
them understood it. Posterity has embraced it. To-day 
who would be a thinker must in mental attitude, if not 
in doctrine, be a Spinozist. 1 

1 Perhaps the most lucid and impartial estimate of Spinoza's place 
in the world of thought, accessible to the English reader, is to be 
found in Sir Frederick Pollock's Spinoza : His Life and Philosophy. 
This work also contains in an appendix a reprint of the English 
translation (1706) of the Dutch biography of Spinoza by his friend 
the Lutheran minister Johannes Colerus, published in 1705. The 
latest biography of Spinoza, based on new materials, is J. Freudenthal's 
Spinoza, sein Leben una 1 seine Lehre, Erster Band, Das Leben Spinozas 
(Stuttgart, 1904). 



The banishment of the Jews from England by Edward 1., 
in 1290, was not quite so thorough as is popularly- 
supposed to have been. A small section of the community 
remained behind, or returned, under the disguise of 
Lombards. This remnant, according to Jewish tradition, 
was finally driven out in 1358 ; but there is on record a 
petition to the Good Parliament which shows that, even 
after that date, some of them continued to lead a masked 
kind of existence in England. The same inference is to 
be drawn from the fact that the House for Jewish Con- 
verts, built by Henry III. in the thirteenth century, 
continued in existence till the seventeenth. Broadly 
speaking, however, Edward's expulsion cleared England of 
Jews. But, while removing the objects of Christian 
hatred, it did not diminish the hatred itself. Although 
the " unclean and perfidious " race had, to all intents and 
purposes, vanished from men's eyes, the legend of their 
wickedness and misanthropy lingered in tradition and was 
consecrated by literature. In the middle of the ensuing 
century we find Gower, the poet, representing a Jew as 
saying : 

"I am a Jewe, and by my lawe 
I shal to no man be felawe 
To keepe him trouth in word ne dede." x 

A few years afterwards Chaucer, in his Prioresses Tak, 
immortalised the monkish fiction of child-murder, which 
had already done yeoman's service in justifying the 

1 Confessio Jmantis, bk. vii. 


persecution of the Jews. Chaucer's child, to judge from 
the scene of its murder being laid in Asia, seems to be the 
eldest member of the large family of massacred Innocents, 
representatives of which are to be met with in nearly 
every European country. 

"Heere bigynneth the Prioresses tale: 

"There was in Asie, in a gret citee, 
Amonges Cristen folk a Jewerye, 
Sustened by a lord of that contree, 
For foule usure and lucre of vilanye, 
Hateful to Crist and to his companye ; 
And thurgh the strete men myght ryde or wende, 
For it was free, and open at eyther ende." 

At the further end of this Jewish quarter stood a little 
school for Christian children, who learnt in it " swich 
maner doctrine as men used there," that is, " to singen and 
to rede." Among these youthful scholars was a widow's 
son, " a litel clergeon, seven year of age," whom his 
mother had taught to kneel and pray before the Virgin's 
image. Day by day on his way to and from school, as he 
passed through the Jewry, this Innocent used full merrily 
to sing " Alma Redemptoris " : 


"The swetnes hath his herte perced so 
Of Cristes mooder, that, to hir to preye, 
He can not stinte of singing by the weye." 

" Our iirste foo, the serpent Sathanas, 
That hath in J ewes herte his waspes nest," 

was sorely vexed at the child's piety, and stirred up the 
inmates of the Jewry with such words : 

"O Hebraik peple, alias! 
Is this to yow a thing that is honest, 
That swich a boy shal walken as him lest 
In your despyt, and singe of swich sentence, 
Which is again your lawes reverence ? " 

The Jews took the hint, and conspired to chase this 
Innocent out of the world. They hired a homicide, and, 
as the boy went by, this cursed Jew seized him, cut his 
throat, and cast him into a pit. 


The poor widow waited all night for her little child 
in vain, and as soon as it was daylight she hastened to 
the school and elsewhere, seeking it, until she heard that 
it had last been seen in the Jewry. Half distracted with 
anguish and fear, she continued her search among the 
accursed Jews, now calling on Christ's mother for help, 
now imploring every Jew she met to tell her if her child 
had passed that way. They all answered and said no! 

But Jesus, who loves to hear his praises sung by the 
mouth of Innocence, directed her steps to the pit, and 
there, wondrous to relate, she heard her child, with its 
throat cut from ear to ear, singing lustily "Alma 

" So loude, that al the place gan to ringe." 

The Christian folk, awestruck, sent for the Provost. 
The boy was taken out of the pit, amid piteous lamenta- 
tions, " singing his song alway," and was carried in 
procession to the Abbey, his mother swooning by the 
bier. The Jews were punished for their crime "with 
torment and with shameful death " ; they were first 
drawn by wild horses and afterwards hanged. 

Meanwhile, this Innocent was borne to his grave, and 
when sprinkled with holy water spoke and sang, " O 
Alma Redemptoris mater ! " The abbot, " who was a 
holy man as monks are, or else ought to be," began to 
adjure the child by the holy Trinity to tell him what 
was the cause of its singing, u sith that thy throte is 
cut, to my seminge ? " The child answers : " 'My throte 
is cut unto my nekkeboon,' and I should have died long 
ago. But Jesus Christ wills that his glory last and be 
remembered. So I am permitted to sing * O Alma ' loud 
and clear." 

He relates how Christ's mother sweet, whom he had 
always loved, came to him and, laying a grain upon his 
tongue, bade him sing this anthem. Thereupon the 
holy monk, drawing out the boy's tongue, removed the 
grain, and forthwith the boy gave up the ghost softly. 
The martyr's "litel body sweet" was laid in a tomb of 
clear marble. 


The Prioresses Tale ends with an apostrophe to young 
Hugh of Lincoln " sleyn also with cursed Jewes, as it is 
notable," and a request that he should pray for us " sinful 
folk unstable." Amen. 

Bishop Percy, in his Reliques of Ancient Poetry, has pre- 
served the Scottish ballad of The Jew's Daughter, which 
turns on an incident bearing a close resemblance to 
Chaucer's tale, although it seems to be based on the 
alleged murder at Trent, in 1475, °f a b° v ca ^ ec i Simon. 1 
The name of the victim, on the legend reaching Eng- 
land, may quite easily have been changed into the 
familiar Hugh. The Scottish version is as follows : 

"The rain rins doune through Mirry-land toune, 
Sae dois it doune the Pa : 
Sae dois the lads of Mirry-land toune, 
Quhan they play at the ba'. 

Than out and cam the Jewis dochter, 

Said, Will ye cum in and dine ? 
'I winnae cum in, I cannae cum in, 

Without my play-feres mine."' 

However, the boy is enticed with an apple " reid and 
white " and stabbed in the heart with a little pen-knife by 
the Jew's daughter, who then laughingly lays him out on 
a dressing board, dresses him like a swine, puts him in 
" a cake of lead " and casts him into a filthy draw-well. 
Lady Helen, the boy's mother, misses him in the evening 
and runs to the " Jewis castel," calling upon her " bonny 
Sir Hew." He answers from the bottom of the well. 

And so one century religiously handed down to the next 
its fictions and its prejudices. 

Yet, the Jew is as hard to keep out as Nature herself : 
Expellas furca tamen usque recurret. In 14 10 we hear of a 
Jewish physician named Elias Sabot who came from 
Bologna with permission to settle and practise in any part of 
the realm. There is also reason to believe that the Jewish 
remnant left in England after Edward's expulsion was 
strongly reinforced by the immigration of refugees from 
Spain towards the end of the fifteenth century. The reign 

1 See above, p. 199. 


of Queen Elizabeth was also distinguished by the influx 
of many foreigners — merchants, miners, 1 and physicians — 
and it is highly probable that there were Jews amongst 
them. But how perilous such a venture was can be seen 
from the following episode. In the year 1581 a certain 
Jeochim Gaunz, or Gaunse, came over with a proposal to 
furnish to the English Government some new information 
concerning the methods of smelting and manufacturing 
copper and lead ores, and conducted experiments in the 
mining districts of Cumberland. For some nine years the 
enterprising stranger lived in London unmolested, because 
unsuspected. But on an evil day, in September 1589, 
he went to Bristol, and there fell in with the Rev. 
Richard Crawley, a clergyman interested in Hebrew. On 
finding that Gaunz knew that language, Mr. Crawley 
cultivated his acquaintance, and in the course of one of 
their learned discussions Gaunz betrayed his Judaism. 
The discovery led to his arrest. Cross-examined by the 
local magistrates, he boldly confessed that he was a 
Bohemian Jew, born and bred, unbaptized and absolutely 
unable to accept the claims of Christianity to a divine 
origin. He was sent before the Privy Council at White- 
hall, where all traces of him are lost. 

But the unpopularity of the race in Elizabethan 
England, apart from Gaunse's case, is abundantly attested 
by the Elizabethan drama. A few authors made occa- 
sional attempts to whitewash the stage Jew; but these 
attempts, somewhat dubious at the best, were certainly 
not successful. That the general opinion of the Jew 
continued to be anything but a favourable one, is implied 
by casual references in various plays, and is manifestly 
proved by the delineation of the Jewish character in 
Marlowe's Jew of Malta and in Shakespeare's Merchant of 
Venice. Marlowe's Barabas and Shakespeare's Shylock 

1 It was by some of these German miners whom the merchant 
venturers of Cornwall engaged in exploiting the Cornish mines, under 
a charter granted by Oueen Elizabeth, that the "dowsing rod" (ScAlag- 
ruthe, or striking-rod) was introduced into England for the purpose of 
discovering mineral veins. Professor W. F. Barrett, " Water-Finding," 
in the Times, January 21, 1905. 


are both replicas of the Jew as conceived by mediaeval 
imagination : a money-monger fabulously rich, ineffably 
tender to his own people, incredibly cruel to the Christian. 
It is a portrait drawn by prejudice and coloured by 
ignorance. The two great dramatists adopted the popular 
lay-figure and breathed into it the spirit of life. The 
result is a gruesome monstrosity, animated by genius. 

Barabas in the first scene of the play " is discovered in 
his counting-house, with heaps of gold before him." 
This wealth is the fruit of extensive trade with the lands 
of the East. Every wind that blows brings to the Jew of 

" argosies 
Laden with riches, and exceeding store 
Of Persian silks, of gold, and oriental pearl." 

In all this prosperity Barabas sees a fulfilment of the 
ancient blessing bestowed by Jehovah on the sons of 
Israel; a proof and a pledge of the Lord's continued 
favour to His chosen people: 

" Thus trowls our fortune in by land and sea, 
And thus are we on every side enriched : 
These are the blessings promised to the Jews, 
And herein was old Abram's happiness : 
What more may Heaven do for earthly man 
Than thus to pour out plenty in their laps, 
Ripping the bowels of the earth for them, 
Making the seas their servants and the winds 
To drive their substance with successful blasts r " 

He does not envy the Christian his fruitless faith, nor 
does he see any virtue in poverty : 

" They say we are a scattered nation : 
I cannot tell, but we have scrambled up 
More wealth by far than those that brag of faith." 

He mentions wealthy Jews in various lands, " wealthier 
far than any Christian," and the opulence of the race 
consoles him for its political humiliation : 

" Give us a peaceful rule, make Christian Kings, 
That thirst so much for principality." 

Thus this practical idealist soliloquises, spiritualising 
the realities of filthy lucre, materialising spiritual 


prophecies, and, in the midst of national disgrace, retain- 
ing his racial pride intact — a living Jew. Nor is he 
devoid of human affections : 

" I have no charge, nor many children, 
But one sole daughter, whom I hold as dear 
As Agamemnon did his Iphigen : 
And all I have is hers." 

Round these two objects, " his girl and his gold," all 
the emotions of Barabas centre, and he is happy. 

But, alas ! Fortune is fickle. At the very moment 
when Barabas is congratulating himself on his prosperity, 
calamity is at the door. A Turkish fleet has arrived in 
the harbour to demand from the Knights of Malta " the 
ten years' tribute that remains unpaid." At this emer- 
gency the Knights hurriedly hold a consultation among 
themselves, and, of course, decide that the Jews shall 
pay the debts of their Christian masters. The scapegoats 
are summoned to the senate-house, and the decision is 
announced to them, by one of the Knights, who candidly 
tells Barabas: 

" Thou art a merchant and a moneyed man 
And 'tis thy money, Barabas, we seek. 
Barabas. How, my lord ! my money ? 
Ferneze, Governor of Malta : Thine and the rest." 

It is in vain that the Hebrews plead poverty. They 
are told that they must contribute their share to the 
welfare of the land in which they are allowed to get their 
wealth. Nor will their share be the same as that of the 
faithful. The Christians, in suffering them to live in their 
country, commit a sin against their God, and the present 
distress is a punishment for it : 

" For through our sufferance of your hateful lives, 
Who stand accursed in the sight of Heaven, 
These taxes and afflictions are befallen, 
And therefore thus we are determined : 
" First, the tribute money of the Turks shall all be levied amongst 
the Jews, and each of them to pay one-half of his estate. 

" Secondly, he that denies to pay shall straight become a Christian. 
" Lastly, he that denies this shall absolutely lose all he has." 

How truly mediaeval the whole scene is ! 


The other Jews consent to give up one-half of their 
estates. Barabas upbraids them for their cowardice, and 
stoutly refuses to comply. But his refusal of half only 
leads to the confiscation of the whole of his property. In 
return for this sacrifice Barabas is cheerfully told that he 
will be suffered to live in Malta, and, li if he can," make 
another fortune. The Hebrew argues : " How can I 
multipy ? of naught is nothing made." But the Christian 
retorts : " From naught at first thou com'st to little wealth, 
from little unto more, from more to most." 

But what need have we of argument ? 

" If your first curse fall heavy on thy head, 
And make thee poor and scorned of all the world, 
'Tis not our fault, but thy inherent sin." 

Thus the poor millionaire is preached out of his 
possessions. What if he individually be blameless r He 
is one of the accursed race, and must pay the penalty for 
the collective sins of his forefathers. All that he obtains 
by his vigorous protests is the comfortless saw : 

" Excess of wealth is cause of covetousness, 
And covetousness, O, 'tis a monstrous sin." 

He is stripped of all he had, his goods, his money, his 
ships, his stores; and his mansion is converted into a 
nunnery. Nothing remains to him but his life, and he is 
left to bewail his misery and to curse its authors to his 
heart's content. This he proceeds to do in the following 
terms : 

" The Plagues of Egypt, and the curse of Heaven, 
Earth's barrenness, and all men's hatred 
Inflict upon them, thou great Trim us Motor ! 
And here upon my knees, striking the earth, 
I ban their souls to everlasting pains 
And extreme tortures of the fiery deep, 
That thus have dealt with me in my distress." 

His brethren, too timid to second Barabas in his 
struggle, now gather round him and strive to console him 
in his sorrow. But Barabas is not to be comforted, any 
more than Job was under like circumstances. Indeed, he 


compares his lot with Job's, and finds it immeasurably- 
harder : 

" He had seven thousand sheep, 
Three thousand camels, and two hundred yoke 
Of labouring oxen, and five hundred 
She-asses ; but for every one of those, 
Had they been valued at indifferent rate, 
I had at home, and in mine argosy, 
And other ships that came from Egypt last, 
As much as would have bought his beasts and him, 
And yet have kept enough to live upon." 

What is there left to him to live for or upon ? He 
likens himself to a general 

" That in a field amidst his enemies 
Doth see his soldiers slain, himself disarmed, 
And knows no means of his recovery : 
Ay, let me sorrow for this sudden chance." 

However, Barabas lies. He is not quite so destitute as 
he would make us believe. He hints that his genius had 
foreseen the possibility of such a mishap and provided 
against it. While he is mourning his misery in loneliness, 
there enters his lovely daughter Abigail, just turned out 
of her home by the nuns, lamenting her father's misfor- 
tunes. He tries to calm her : 

" Be silent, daughter, sufferance breeds ease, 
And time may yield us an occasion 
Which on the sudden cannot serve the turn. 
Besides, my girl, think me not all so fond 
As negligently to forego so much 
Without provision for thyself and me : 
Ten thousand portagues, besides great pearls, 
Rich costly jewels, and stones infinite, 
Fearing the worst of this before it fell, 
I closely hid." 

But she tells him that his house has been taken 
possession of by nuns, and therefore he cannot get at his 
hidden treasure. On hearing of this crowning calamity 
poor Barabas cries : 

" My gold ! my gold, and all my wealth is gone ! " 

accusing Heaven and the stars of their exceeding cruelty. 
But his courage and cunning do not fail him even then. 


He rises to the height of his misfortune and instructs his 
daughter to go to the Abbess of the nunnery, and, by 
pretending that she wishes to be converted, to obtain 
access to the treasure. Abigail, after much hesitation, 
consents to play the part of hypocrite, and she plays it 
with consummate skill and success. " The hopeless 
daughter of a hapless Jew" goes to the holy lady and 
declares that, fearing that her father's afflictions proceed 
from sin or want of faith, she desires to pass away her life 
in penitence. She is admitted to the sisterhood as a 
novice. Barabas rails at her in simulated wrath, while 
secretly he gives her some final instructions concerning the 
treasure, and parts with her on the understanding that at 
midnight she will join him with the hoard. 

Vexed and tormented by the memories of his lost 
wealth, the wretched Barabas roams the livelong night, 
sleepless and homeless, haunting, like the ghost of a 
departed miser, the place where his treasure is hid ; and 
beseeching the God of Israel to direct Abigail's hand. 
At last she appears at a window aloft, and lets the bags 
fall. Whereupon the Jew bursts forth into an ecstasy of 
joy : 

" O my girl ! 
My gold, my fortune, my felicity. 
O girl ! O gold ' O beauty ! O my bliss ! " 

Two young Christian gentlemen, Mathias and Lodo- 
wick, are enamoured of the Jew's daughter. Barabas, 
in the bitterness of his soul, resolves to have both youths 
murdered : Lodowick as the son of the Governor who 
bereft him of his fortuue, Mathias simply as a Christian. 
In pursuance of this dark design, he makes use of his 
beloved daughter. He promises her hand to each of the 
youths in turn ; he incenses the one against the other ; 
and he instructs his daughter to receive them both, and 
entertain them "with all the courtesy she can afford." 
" Use them as if they were Philistines," he says to her, 
" dissemble, swear, protest, vow love " to each. No 
considerations of maidenly modesty need restrain her, for 
neither youth is " of the seed of Abraham." She obeys, 
not knowing her father's real purpose. A mock betrothal 


to Lodowick takes place. Abigail plights her troth to 
the youth ; for " it's no sin to deceive a Christian " — 

" That never tasted of the Passover, 
Nor e'er shall see the land of Canaan 
Nor our Messias that is yet to come. 
For they themselves hold it a principle, 
Faith is not to be held with heretics ; 
But all are heretics that are not Jews." 

No sooner has the deluded Lodowick departed, than 
his rival appears on the scene, and is treated likewise. 
But Barabas is counting without his daughter. Abigail, 
though indifferent to Lodowick, reciprocates Mathias' 
affection. Besides, the double part she is induced to play 
for her father's sake is abhorrent to her nature. 

In the meantime Barabas, by foul lies and forged 
letters, brings about a mortal duel between the two rivals. 
Abigail, on hearing of her lover's death and of her 
father's villainy, indignant at having been made the 
instrument of his crime, revolted and sick of life, resolves 
to return to the nunnery and take the veil in earnest. 

Barabas is exasperated by this last blow. He curses 
his daughter for her desertion, adopts for his heir a 
rascally Mohammedan slave, who had been his accomplice 
throughout, and makes use of him to poison all the nuns, 
his own daughter included. 

Barabas is rejoicing at the success of his plot. On 
hearing the bells ring for the funeral of his victims, 
he breaks into fiendish exultation : 

" There is no music to a Christian's knell. 
How sweet the bells ring now the nuns are dead ! " 

But his joy is short-lived. Before her death Abigail 
confessed the part which she had unwillingly taken in 
the conspiracy that brought about the mutual murder 
of the two young gentlemen. The friar who received 
Abigail's confession taxes Barabas with the crime. 
The Jew, frightened, tries to save his life by feigned 
conversion. He promises to do penance : 

" To fast, to pray, and wear a shirt of hair, 
And on my knees creep to Jerusalem," 


and to give an immense sum to the friar's monastery. 
The friar accepts the offer joyously, and is inveigled 
by the Jew into his house, where he is strangled. But 
the Mohammedan slave, in a moment of merry and 
amorous expansiveness, betrays his own and his master's 
secrets to his boon companions, who immediately inform 
the Governor. Barabas and the slave are arrested and 
sentenced to death. The former drugs himself, and, 
under the impression that he is dead, is thrown outside 
the city walls. On recovering from the draught, he 
determines to avenge his wrongs by delivering the city 
up to the Turks. The Governor and the Knights of 
Malta are taken prisoners, and the Jew is made Governor. 
But, knowing that he will never be safe in a place and 
amongst people that had so much cause to hate him, 
he purchases peace and more wealth by a second treachery. 
He offers to invite the Turkish general and his comrades 
to a banquet and to murder them, while their soldiers 
are entrapped in a monastery and blown up. The 
Christians accept the offer, and Barabas felicitates him- 
self on his cunning : 

" Why, is not this 
A Kingly kind of trade, to purchase towns 
By treachery and sell 'em by deceit ? " 

But though they hate the Turk, the Christians hate 
the Jew more heartily still. They apprise the doomed 
general of Barabas' plan, and the latter is, literally, 
made to fall into the pit which he had dug for the 
Turk. In his fury and despair the wretch confesses 
all his sins, boasting of the stratagems by which he 
had meant to bring confusion on them all, " damned 
Christian dogs and Turkish infidels" alike, and, having 
cursed his fill, dies. The Knights exact reparation 
from the Turks for the sack of the city, and thus the 
play ends in a triumph for the Cross. 

The Jew, as has been seen, does not become the 
villain of the piece, until after he has been made the 
victim. But the audience is supposed to execrate his 
villainy and laugh at his sufferings. The author takes 
good care to disarm pity by painting the Jew in the 


blackest and most ludicrous colours that he can find 
on his palette. He endows him with a colossal nose 
and all the crimes under the sun. Barabas' cruelty 
to the poor is only equalled by his insolence to the 
powerful. He is made to say that he " would for lucre's 
sake have sold his soul." His contempt and hatred 
towards the Christians is dwelt upon with reiterated 
emphasis : 

" 'tis a custom held with us 

That when we speak with Gentiles like you, 

We turn into the air to purge ourselves ; 

For unto us the promise doth belong." 

He instructs his Mohammedan slave : 

" First be thou void of these affections, 
Compassion, love, vain hope, and heartless fear, 
Be moved at nothing, see thou pity none, 
But to thyself smile when the Christians moan." 

He brags that he himself has always acted on those 
precepts : 

" As for myself, I walk abroad o' nights, 
And kill sick people groaning under walls : 
Sometimes I go about and poison wells : 
And now and then, to cherish Christian thieves, 
I am content to lose some of my crowns, 
That I may, walking in my gallery, 
See 'em go pinioned along by my door." 

He gives a lurid account of his past life : 

" Being young, I studied physic, and began 
To practise first upon the Italian ; 
There I enriched the priests with burials, 
And always kept the sextons' arms in ure 
With digging graves and ringing dead men's knells." 

After a career of treachery as a military engineer, he 
became a usurer : 

" And with extorting, cozening, forfeiting, 
And tricks belonging unto brokery, 
I filled the jails with bankrupts in a year, 
And with young orphans planted hospitals, 
And every moon made some or other mad, 
And now and then one hang himself for grief, 
Pinning upon his breast a long great scroll 
How I with interest tormented him." 


And when the Turk had related some of his own 
exploits in the fields of murder, deceit, and torture of 
Christians, the Jew sees in him a brother : 

" We are villains both : 
Both circumcised, we hate Christians both." 

Thus all the anti-Jewish prejudices of the Middle 
Ages are embodied in Barabas, who, lest the list should 
be incomplete, is also accused of fornication and of having 
crucified a child. His daughter with all her charm and 
loveliness seems to be created partly as a foil to the Jew's 
grotesque personality, partly as a means of wounding him 
through the one weak spot in his anti-Christian cuirass — 
his affection for her. 

The Merchant of Venice has its twin brother in the 
ballad of Gernutus, the Jew of Venice, preserved in Percy's 
Reliques : 

" In Venice towne not long agoe 
A cruel Jew did dwell, 
Which lived all on usurie, 
As Italian writers tell." 

Both stories seem to be derived from an Italian novel 
by Giovanni Fiorentino, written about 1378, and first 
printed at Milan in 1554. 

Shakespeare's Shylock is cast in the same mould as 
Marlowe's Barabas. He loathes the Christian and his 
manners, his masques, and merriments and foppery. He 
will not dine with him, lest he should " smell pork, eat of 
the habitation which your prophet, the Nazarite, conjured 
the devils into. I will buy with you, sell with you, talk 
with you, walk with you, and so following ; but I will 
not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you." 
His covetousness intensifies his superstitious hatred of the 
Gentile : 

" I hate him for he is a Christian ; 
But more for that, in low simplicity, 
He lends out money gratis, and biings down 
The rate of usance." 

The Christian's scorn exasperates the Jew still further : 

" If I can catch him once upon the hip, 
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. 


He hates our sacred nation ; and he rails 
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift, 
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe 
If I forgive him ! " 

But, while abhorring the Christian in his heart, he 
outwardly fawns upon him, awaiting an opportunity of 
gratifying his hunger for vengeance. This soon presents 
itself. Antonio, the upright and proud Venetian mer- 
chant, proposes to stand security for a friend who wants 
to borrow three thousand ducats of the Jew, on Antonio's 
bond. Even while negotiating the loan, the Christian 
reviles the Jew as " an evil soul, a villain with a smiling 
cheek," a whited sepulchre. Shylock now reminds him of 
all the insults and invectives he used to heap upon him in 
the Exchange : 

" You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, 
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, 

and yet you solicit my help." The Christian answers: 

" I am as like to call thee so again, 
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too," 

and asks him to lend the money as to an enemy. The 
Jew pretends to forgive and forget ; but he takes Antonio 
at his word, and playfully demands a forfeit "for an 
equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in 
what part of your body pleaseth me." The bond is sealed, 
and it proves a fatal bond. Antonio's ships are wrecked 
at sea, and, when the term expires, he finds himself 
unable to pay the Jew. 

Shylock, like Barabas, has an only daughter, Jessica, 
whom he cherishes and trusts above all human beings. 
All the love that he can spare from his ducats is lavished 
upon this daughter. Fair as Abigail, Jessica lacks the 
filial loyalty and sweet grace which render the daughter of 
Barabas so charming a contrast to her father. Jessica is 
" ashamed to be her father's child." She detests him, and 
to her her own home " is hell." Enamoured of a Christian 
youth, she enters into a shameless intrigue with him to 
deceive and rob her father, and, disguised as a boy, she 


runs away with her lover, carrying a quantity of gold and 
jewels from the paternal hoard. The discovery of his 
daughter's desertion throws Shylock, as it did Barabas, 
into despair. He never felt his nation's curse until 

While in this mood he hears of Antonio's losses and 
rejoices exceedingly thereat. The news of his enemy's 
mishap acts as a salve for his own domestic woes. His 
old grudge against the Christian, embittered by his recent 
misfortune, steels him against mercy. He recalls the 
indignities and injuries of which he had been the 
recipient at Antonio's hands, all because he was a Jew, and 
vows to exact the full forfeit : to have the Christian's 
flesh. Antonio is taken to prison and implores Shylock 
for pity ; but the latter grimly answers : " I'll have my 
bond. Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause ; 
but since I am a dog, beware my fangs. I will have my 

The Venetian law was strict on the subject of com- 
mercial transactions. The prosperity of the Republic 
depended on its reputation for equity and impartiality, and 
not even the Doge could interfere with the course of 
Justice. The trial commences. Antonio appears in 
court, and Shylock demands justice. He is not to be 
softened by prayers from the victim's friends, or by 
entreaties from the Duke. He will not even accept the 
money multiplied three times over ; but he insists on the 
due and forfeit of his bond. Thus matters stand, when 
Portia, the betrothed of Antonio's friend, appears on the 
scene in the guise of a young and learned judge. She 
first endeavours to bend the Jew's heart ; but on finding 
him inflexible, she acknowledges that there is no power in 
Venice that can alter a legally established claim : " The 
bond is forfeit, and lawfully by this the Jew may claim 
a pound of flesh." 

Antonio is bidden to lay bare his breast, and Shylock 
is gleefully preparing to execute his cruel intent; the 
scene has reached its climax of dramatic intensity, when 
the tables are suddenly turned upon the Jew. The 
young judge stays his hand with these awful words : 


" This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood. 
Take thou thy pound of flesh ; 
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed 
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods 
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate 
Unto the state of Venice." 

Shylock has scarcely recovered from this thunderclap, 
and expressed his willingness to accept the money offered 
to him at first, when the judge interrupts him: "The 
Jew shall have all justice — nothing but the penalty" — 
just a pound of flesh, not a scruple more or less. If 
not, "thou diest and all thy goods confiscate." 

Shylock is now content to accept only the principal. 
But the judge again says : " Since the Jew refused the 
money in open Court, he shall have merely justice and 
his bond — nothing but the forfeiture," under the condi- 
tions already named. 

Shylock offers to give up his claim altogether. But 
no ! the judge again says : 

" The law hath yet another hold on you. 
It is enacted in the laws of Venice — 
If it be proved against an alien 
That by direct or indirect attempts 
He seek the life of any citizen, 
The party 'gainst the which he doth contrive 
Shall seize one half his goods ; the other half 
Comes to the privy coffer of the State ; 
And the offender's life lies in the mercy 
Of the Duke only, 'gainst all other voice. 
In which predicament, I say, thou stand'st. 
Down, therefore, and beg mercy of the Duke." 

Antonio intercedes on behalf of his enemy, and allows 
him to retain the use of one half of his goods, on condi- 
tion that he become a Christian and bequeath his 
property to his Christian son-in-law and his daughter. 
The Jew perforce accepts these terms, leaves the Court 
crestfallen, and every good man and woman is expected to 
rejoice at his discomfiture. 

Such is the Jew in Shakespeare's eyes, or rather in the 
eyes of the public which Shakespeare wished to entertain. 
Yet, despite the poet's anxiety to interpret the feelings of 


his audience, his own humanity and sympathetic imagina- 
tion reveal themselves in the touching appeal put into the 
victim's mouth : " Hath not a Jew eyes ? hath not a Jew 
hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? 
Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, 
subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, 
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as 
a Christian ? if you prick us, do we not bleed ? if you 
tickle us, do we not laugh ? if you poison us, do we not 
die ? and, if you wrong us, shall we not revenge ? If we 
are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that." 
But few, if any, of Shakespeare's contemporaries shared 
his own broad sense of justice. The Jew was popularly 
regarded as the quintessence of all that is foul, grim, 
and greedy in human form. In him the Elizabethan 
Englishman saw all the qualities that he detested : covet- 
ousness, deceitfulness, and cruelty. Moreover, the Jew 
was still identified with the typical usurer, and usury 
continued to be regarded in England with all the super- 
stitious horror of the Middle Ages. It was not until 
1546 the reign of Henry VIII. that a law was reluctantly 
passed, fixing the interest at 10 per cent. But the 
prejudice against lending money for profit was so strong 
that the law had to be repealed in the following reign. 
All loans at interest were again pronounced illegal under 
Edward VI. by an Act which defeated its own purpose, 
and was in its turn repealed during the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth, when, despite the law, the rate of interest was 
14 per cent. A second Act, passed in 1571, while 
violently condemning usury, in the modern sense of the 
term, permits an interest of 10 per cent. This rate 
remained in force under James I. 

Bacon has recorded for us the opinions and the senti- 
ments of his contemporaries on the subject. In his essay 
Of Seditions and Troubles, written some time between 
1607 and 1 612, he says: "Above all things, good 
Policie is to be used, that the Treasure and Moneyes, in 
a State, be not gathered into few Hands. For other- 
wise, a State may have a great Stock, and yet starve. . . 
This is done, chiefly, by suppressing, or at least, keeping 


a strait Hand, upon the Devouring Trades of Usurie, 
etc." In this passage Bacon objects to usury on 
economic grounds. Elsewhere he sets forth objections 
of a totally different nature. In the essay Of Riches, 
published in 1625, he says: ''Usury is the certainest 
Meanes of Gaine, though one of the worst ; As that, 
whereby a Man doth eate his Bread; In sudore vultus 
alieni ; and besides, doth Plough upon Sundaies." Aris- 
totle's mischievous metaphor was still quoted as an 
argument against usury. It is mentioned by Bacon 
among the many "witty invectives against usury" 1 
current in his time, and it is embodied by Shakespeare 
in the phrase that usurers "take a breed for barren 
metal." 2 

At that time the question was engrossing public atten- 
tion. In 1 62 1 a Bill for the abatement of usury had 
been brought into Parliament, and two years later a 
second Bill to the same effect passed the Commons. 
Bacon seized the opportunity for the publication of his 
essay Of Usurie, which appeared in 1623. In a letter 
to Secretary Conway he states that his object in writing 
it was to suggest means, whereby " to grind the teeth 
of usury and yet to make it grind to his Majesty's mill 
in good sort, without discontent or perturbation." In 
consonance with this view, Bacon describes usury as an 
evil, indeed, but as an inevitable evil : " For since there 
must be Borrowing and Lending, and Men are so hard 
of Heart, as they will not lend freely, Usury must 
be permitted." He proceeds to balance the advantages 
and disadvantages of the practice and comes to the con- 
clusion that it should be recognised and controlled by 
the State, for " It is better to mitigate Usury by 
Declaration, than to suffer it to rage by Connivance." 
Bacon's advocacy was not wasted. In the following year 
Usury was once more sanctioned by the Legislature and 1624 
interest was reduced to 8 per cent. But this measure 
did not obliterate the deep-seated hatred of the money- 
lender, nor did it weaken the popular idea that usury 

1 Essay, Of Usurie. 

2 Merchant of Venice, Act i. Sc. 3. 


was the peculiar attribute of a Jew. Bacon in the same 
essay tells us that there were among his contemporaries 
men who recommended "that Usurers should have 
Orange-tawney Bonnets, because they doe Judaize." 

However, the abhorrence of the Jew was that which is 
inspired by a repulsive abstraction rather than by a 
concrete individual. The Jew in the flesh was practically 
an unknown creature to the ordinary English man and 
woman of the age. If he was hated as a blood-sucking 
ghoul, he was not more real than a ghoul. But scarcely 
had the generation that hissed Barabas and Shylock on 
the stage passed away, when the Jew reappeared as a 
human reality upon the soil which his fathers had 
quitted more than three centuries before. 

Meanwhile a great change had come over England. 
The protest against authority, both in its intellectual 
and in its spiritual form, had crossed the Channel 
and been welcomed by responsive souls on our shores. 
When Erasmus came to England in 1498, he found here 
more than he brought with him. Grocyn had learnt his 
Greek in Italy, and Colet had returned from that country 
breathing scorn for the £< ungodly refinements " of 
theology. In these scholars, and scholars like these, 
Erasmus found kindred spirits; hearty allies in the 
struggle for light. Colet enchanted him with his Platonic 
eloquence, and Sir Thomas More with the sweetness of 
his temper. And the band of these three noble men — 
Colet, Erasmus and More — all eager for reform and for 
purification of mind and soul, sowed the seed from which 
was to spring a plant that even they little dreamed of. 
The characteristic compromise between the new and the 
old under Henry VIII., grew into the purer Protestantism 
of Elizabeth and James I., and, though in Shakespeare 
we still see a world essentially Catholic in tone and ideas, 
it is a world that is fast dying away. Yet a few years 
more and Protestantism, under its most militant and 
morose aspect, has banished the last vestiges of mediaeval 
Catholicism and merriment from Merry England. King 
Charles is gone, and Oliver Cromwell has inherited the 
realities, if not the pomp, of royalty. 



There was much in Cromwell's followers to dispose them 
favourably towards Israel. Their history, their theology, 
their character, their morals, and their ideals were all as 
Hebraic as anything could be that had not had its birth 
in Asia. The Puritans boasted, as the Jews had always 
done, that they themselves were the only pure Church, 
and hated all others as idolaters. They believed, as the 
Jews had always done, that they were the favourite people 
of Heaven, selected by the Almighty to bear testimony to 
His unity, to fight His battles and to exterminate His 
enemies : " Destroy the Amalekites, root and branch, hip 
and thigh," was the burden of the Puritan preachers. 
They dreamed of a Theocracy, as the Jews had always 
done ; of a state in which the civil should be subordi- 
nated to religious authority. The spiritual arrogance of 
the Jew met with its other half in the spiritual arrogance 
of the Puritan. If the Jew held that for him Jehovah 
had spoken on Mount Sinai, the Puritan was equally 
certain that for him God had suffered on the hill of 
Calvary. If the Jew applied to himself the prophecies of 
the Old Testament, the Puritan was as eager to appro- 
priate the fulfilments of the New. They both walked 
with their heads in the skies, but with their feet firm upon 
solid earth. The daily contemplation of eternal interests 
did not disqualify either of them for the successful pursuit 
of temporal ends. Spiritual at once and practical, they 
saw in material prosperity a proof of divine approbation. 
Believing, as they did, that "thrift is blessing," they 
strove to earn the fruits of thrift by excessive piety. 


And, while they established their own rule, they had no 
doubt that they were promoting the Kingdom of God. 

The resemblance can be traced to the minutest details. 
The Puritan's detestation of the fine arts, of ecclesi- 
astical decoration, and of sacerdotal foppery was not less 
sincere than that of the Jew. Equally strong was the 
hatred entertained by both sects towards public amuse- 
ments. Under the reign of the Puritans the playhouses 
were closed, masques were anathematised, maypoles de- 
molished ; all beauty was denounced as a sin, all pleasure 
punished as a crime. Even so at the same period (about 
1660) a Rabbi of Venice expressed his horror at the 
establishment of theatres by Venetian Jews, wherein men, 
women, and children of the chosen people assisted at 
frivolous performances, and regretted his inability to 
suppress the graceless and godless gatherings. Both Jews 
and Puritans in the seventeenth century were ready to 
subscribe to the words of the Talmudic sage of the first : 
" I give thanks to thee, O Lord, my God and God of my 
fathers, that thou hast placed my portion among those 
who sit in the House of Learning and the House of 
Prayer, and didst not cast my lot among those who 
frequent theatres and circuses. For I labour, and they 
labour ; I wait, and they wait ; I to inherit paradise, they 
the pit of destruction." 1 

Lastly, both Puritans and Jews had suffered sorely for 
dissent, and they had both made others suffer as sorely 
for the same reason. The heroic fortitude of both sects 
under affliction was disgraced by their fierce intolerance 
when in power. 

This close similarity in temperament and ideas found 
expression in many ways, more or less marvellous, more 
or less amusing. It originated that partiality to the Old 
Testament which was responsible for most of the 
Puritans' peculiarities and sins. The Lord's Day in their 
mouths became the Sabbath ; their children were baptized 
by the uncouth names of ancient Hebrew patriarchs and 
prophets ; their everyday conversation was a compound 
of sanctity and Semitism. Hebrew was revered as the 
1 1. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, p. 251. 


primitive tongue of mankind, and it was held that a child 
brought up in solitude would naturally speak Hebrew at 
four years of age. Not only were their notions on social 
and moral questions derived from the code of Moses, but 
even in matters judicial that code was gravely recom- 
mended as a substitute for English jurisprudence, and the 
extreme Puritans, who migrated to America, actually 
adopted the Mosaic law in Massachusetts, acted Hebrew 
masquerades in the island of Rhode, and called the 
members of the Constitutional Committee of New Haven 
" The seven pillars hewn out for the House of Wisdom." 
Last, but most important of all, Cromwell's Ironsides 
found in the Old Testament precedent and sanction for 
deeds which are utterly abhorrent to the teaching of the 

Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that, while 
the persecution of Papists and Episcopalians was at its 
highest in England, the public attitude towards the Jews 
should have undergone a marked change for the better. 
Members of the race were already established in London, 
though secretly. On January 5, 1649, two inhabitants 
of Amsterdam presented to Fairfax and the Army a 
petition for the repeal of the banishment of the Jews 
under Edward I., and they must have found the public 
mind not unprepared for their request. The question of 
the rehabilitation of the Jews formed about this time the 
subject of earnest consideration in certain circles. Edward 
Nicholas, ex-Secretary to Parliament, advocated it with 
fervour and biblical erudition, declaring his belief that the 
tribulations which England had endured for a generation 
were a punishment for the expulsion of God's people. A 
newspaper, published on May 6, 1652, contains the 
account of a visit to a synagogue in Leghorn by a 
friendly sailor, ending with the appeal, "Shall they be 
tolerated by the Pope, and by the Duke of Florence, 
by the Turks, and by the Barbarians and others, and 
shall England still have laws in force against them ? " l 
When Dr. John Owen drew up his scheme for a national 

1 S. R. Gardiner, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, vol. ii. 
p. 30, n. 3. 


l6 5* Church and submitted it to Parliament, Major Butler and 
some others attacked it as not liberal enough. Not only 
did they denounce interference on the part of the State in 
matters spiritual and doctrinal, but they asked : " Is it 
not the duty of magistrates to permit the Jews, whose 
conversion we look for, to live freely and peaceably 
amongst us ? " Roger Williams was strongly on the 
same side, and so was Whalley, the gallant Major of 
Naseby fame, both on religious and on practical grounds. 
As a result of this agitation in favour of Israel, four 
conferences were publicly held for a discussion of the 
matter. The last of these occurred on Wednesday, 
December 12th, 1655, at Whitehall, under the presi- 
dency of the Protector. It was a great event, and it 
created a deep sensation throughout the country. All 
the highest authorities of the Church and the State 
assisted at the consultation, and argued out the question 
whether the Jews should be permitted to settle and trade 
in England again. 

The proposer was Manasseh Ben Israel, a Rabbi of 
Amsterdam, the son of a Marrano of Lisbon, who had 
suffered at the hands of the Inquisition. Manasseh was a 
true patriot: rich in nothing but Rabbinical and Cab- 
balistic lore, a fluent speaker, and a prolific writer ; withal 
a firm believer in the approaching advent of the Messiah, 
and in his own divinely appointed mission to promote 
that advent. Indeed, he had a family interest in 
the matter; for he had married a descendant of the 
House of David, and entertained hopes that, in accordance 
with the ancient prophecies, the King of Israel might be 
among his own offspring. Manasseh, thinking that the 
establishment of the Puritan Commonwealth and of 
liberty of conscience in England, as well as the enormous 
attention paid by the European world at that time to 
questions of biblical prophecy, afforded an opportunity 
for the readmission of his co-religionists, had already 
approached the English Puritans and Millennarians, and 
had made several attempts to obtain a hearing of Parlia- 
ment; but he had failed until Cromwell's accession to 
the head of affairs. Manasseh, in his declaration to 


the Commonwealth of England, dwelt at great length 
and with great historical knowledge on the loyalty shown 
by the Jewish people in the countries where they were 
treated kindly. Among other examples he quoted the 
heroic fidelity of the Jews of Burgos to the fallen King of 
Castile, Don Pedro. 1 But his principal argument was that 
by the admission of the Jews into England the biblical 
prophecies concerning the Messianic era — namely, that it 
would not dawn until the Israelites had been dispersed 
through all the nations of the earth — would be fulfilled, 
and thus the era itself brought materially nearer. It was 
an argument well calculated to appeal to an audience 
thirsting for the Millennium and the Fifth Monarchy 
of the Apocalypse, and terribly anxious to pave the way 
for the Redeemer. 

Cromwell himself — whether influenced by Messianic 
expectations, by the desire to win over the Jews to 
Christianity through kindness, by broad principles of 
religious toleration, or by the less aerial motive of making 
use of the Jews as a means of obtaining intelligence on 
international affairs and of profiting by their wealth and 
commercial ability — was earnestly in favour of Manasseh's 
proposal, and supported it with great eloquence. But it 
was not to be. Though the conference decided that 
there was no legal obstacle to the setdement of Jews in 
England, public opinion, and religious sentiment more 
especially, were not yet ripe for so revolutionary a 
measure. Despite the enlightened example of leaders 
like Cromwell and Milton, the majority thought other- 
wise. Liberty of conscience ? they said. Yes, but within 
certain limits. So, after a long and wearisome controversy, 
in which prophecies and statutes were solemnly quoted by 
both sides, weighed and rejected, prejudice prevailed over 
reason and Christian charity ; and Manasseh Ben Israel 
was obliged to depart — not quite empty-handed ; for 
Cromwell rewarded his labours in the good cause 
with an annual allowance of one hundred pounds, which, 
however, the rabbi did not live to enjoy. He died on the 
way to Amsterdam ; like Moses, denied the satisfaction 

1 See above, p. 148. 


of witnessing the fruit of his zeal. For, though a 
public and general admission of his co-religionists was 
found impracticable, it was understood that individual 
members of the race could settle in the country by 
Cromwell's private permission. Many availed themselves 
of this privilege, in the teeth of strong opposition on the 
part of the Christian merchants of the city, and soon a 
humble synagogue and a Jewish cemetery were seen in 

l6 57 London — nearly four hundred years after their con- 
fiscation by Edward I. This return is still celebrated 
by English Jews as Re-settlement Day, its anniversary 
constituting one of the few "red-letter days" in their 
calendar. Nor is the man forgotten who practically 
secured the boon. Manasseh's memory is held in 
deservedly high honour among Hebrews, and the 
English Jewish community in 1904 celebrated the 300th 
anniversary of his birth. 

When, a few years after the settlement, the Common- 

1660 wealth was overthrown by the Restoration, the Jewish 
community survived their protector. Charles II., too 
needy to despise the Jews, not bigoted enough to perse- 
cute them, followed the tolerant policy of his great 
predecessor, and, though from entirely different motives, 
granted to them the benefit of an unmolested, if legally 
unrecognised, residence in his dominions. Mr. Pepys 
visited their synagogue in London on October 13th, 
1663, and seems to have been greatly amazed, amused, 
and scandalised by what he saw therein : 

"After dinner my wife and I, by Mr. Rawlinson's 
conduct, to the Jewish Synagogue: where the men and 
boys in their vayles, and the women behind a lettice out 
of sight; and some things stand up, which I believe is 
their law, in a press to which all coming in do bow ; and 
at the putting on their vayles do say something, to which 
others that hear the Priest do cry Amen, and the party do 
kiss his vayle. Their service all in a singing way and in 
Hebrew. And anon their Laws that they take out of the 
press are carried by several men, four or five several 
burthens in all, and they do relieve one another ; and 
whether it is that every one desires to have the carrying 


of it, thus they carried it round about the room while 
such a service is singing. And in the end they had a 
prayer for the King, in which they pronounced his name 
in Portugall; but the prayer, like the rest, in Hebrew. 

" But, Lord ! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, 
and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more 
like brutes than people knowing the true God, would 
make a man forswear ever seeing them more ; and indeed 
I never did see so much, or could have imagined there 
had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly 
performed as this." 

Such was the impression which the Jewish congregation 
produced on that keen observer of the surface of things. 

The inference to be drawn from these sprightly com- 
ments is that the Jew was far from having outlived his 
unpopularity. Though the doctrine of toleration, for 
which Cromwell had fought and Milton suffered, was still 
preached by divines like Taylor and expounded by 
philosophers like Locke, the English public was far from 
recognising every man's right to think, act and worship as 
seemed good to him. So hard it is even for the faintest 
ray of light to pierce the mists of prejudice. 

To Mr. Pepys we also owe a curious glimpse of the 
vigour with which the Messianic Utopia was cherished at this 
time amongst us. The fame of Sabbatai Zebi had reached 
England, and the Prophet of Smyrna found adherents even 
in the city of London. We are in 1666, on the eve of the 
mystic era fixed by enthusiasts as the year that was to see 
the restoration of Israel to the Holy Land. Under date 
February 19th, Mr. Pepys makes the following entry in 
his Diary ; — " I am told for certain, what I have heard 
once or twice already, of a Jew in town, that in the name 
of the rest do offer to give any man £10 to be paid £100, 
if a certain person now at Smyrna be within these two 
years owned by all the Princes of the East, and par- 
ticularly the Grand Segnor, as the King of the world, in 
the same manner we do the King of England here, and 
that this man is the true Messiah. One named a friend 
of his that had received ten pieces in gold upon this score, 
and says that the Jew hath disposed of ^i,ioo in this 


manner, which is very strange ; and certainly this year of 
1666 will be a year of great action; but what the conse- 
quences of it will be, God knows ! " 

But the Messiah did not come ; and twenty-four years 
1689 later, under William and Mary, an attempt was made to 
fleece the unpopular race in London. It was proposed in 
the Commons that j£ 100,000 should be exacted from the 
Jews; and the proposition impressed the House as 
tempting. But the Jews presented a petition pleading 
their inability to comply and declaring that they would 
rather leave the kingdom than submit to such treatment. 
Their protest was seconded by statesmen who, be their 
personal feelings towards the Jews what they might, 
objected to the measure as contrary to the spirit of the 
British Constitution ; and after some discussion the pro- 
ject was abandoned, though not the prejudice which had 
made such a proposal possible. 

Sober Protestantism did not in the least share the 
Puritan preference for Hebrew ideals. If the Spectator 
may be taken as a mirror of public opinion on the subject, 
in the reign of Queen Anne, English Protestants objected 
to " the Multiplicity of Ceremonies in the Jewish Religion, 
as Washings, Dresses, Meats, Purgations, and the like." 
Addison states that the reason for these minute observ- 
ances, adduced by the Jews, was their anxiety to create as 
many occasions as possible of showing their love to God, 
by doing in all circumstances of life something to please 
Him. However, this explanation does not seem con- 
vincing to the critic, who goes on to remark that Roman 
Catholic apologists use similar arguments in defence of 
their own rites, and concludes; "But, notwithstanding 
the plausible Reason with which both the Jew and the 
Roman Catholick would excuse their respective Super- 
stitions, it is certain there is something in them very 
pernicious to Mankind, and destructive to Religion." 1 
Accordingly, a statute of Queen Anne encouraged con- 
version to Christianity by compelling Jewish parents to 
support their apostate children. 

Addison, elsewhere, recognises the advantages, com- 
1 Spectator, No. 213, Nov. 3 171 1. 


mercial and other, which the world owes to the Jews' 
dispersion through the nations of the earth; but he 
quaintly observes : " They are like the Pegs and Nails in 
a great Building, which, though they are but little valued 
in themselves, are absolutely necessary to keep the whole 
Frame together." 1 He is impressed by the multitude of 
the Jews, despite the decimations and persecutions to 
which they had been exposed for so many centuries, no 
less than by their world-wide dissemination and firm 
adherence to their religion ; and he endeavours to explain 
these remarkable phenomena by several reflections which 
deserve to be quoted, not only on account of the in- 
trinsic sound sense of some of them, but also for the sake 
of the picture which they present of the Jewish nation in 
the early days of the eighteenth century, as it appeared to 
a highly cultured Gentile, and of the highly cultured 
Gentile's attitude towards the nation : 

" I can," says the Spectator, " in the first place attribute 
their numbers to nothing but their constant Employment, 
their Abstinence, their Exemption from Wars, and, above 
all, their frequent Marriages ; for they look on Celibacy 
as an accursed State, and generally are married before 
Twenty, as hoping the Messiah may descend from them." 

Their dispersion is explained as follows : 

" They were always in Rebellions and Tumults while 
they had the Temple and Holy City in View, for which 
reason they have often been driven out of their old 
Habitations in the Land of Promise. They have as often 
been banished out of most other Places where they have 
settled. . . . Besides, the whole People is now a Race of 
such Merchants as are Wanderers by Profession, and, at 
the same time, are in most if not all Places incapable of 
either Lands or Offices, that might engage them to make 
any part of the World their Home. This Dispersion 
would probably have lost their Religion had it not been 
secured by the Strength of its Constitution : For they are 
to live all in a Body, and generally within the same 
Enclosure; to marry among themselves, and to eat no 
Meats that are not killed or prepared their own way. 
x Ib. No. 495, Sept. 27, 1 71 2. 


This shuts them out from all Table Conversation, and the 
most agreeable Intercourses of Life ; and, by consequence, 
excludes them from the most probable Means of Con- 

"If, in the last place, we consider what Providential 
Reason may be assigned for these three Particulars, we 
shall find that their Numbers, Dispersion, and Adherence 
to their Religion, have furnished every Age, and every 
Nation of the World, with the strongest Arguments for 
the Christian Faith, not only as these very Particulars are 
foretold of them, but as they themselves are the Deposi- 
tories of these and all the other Prophecies, which tend to 
their own Confusion. Their Number furnishes us with a 
sufficient Cloud of Witnesses that attest the Truth of the 
Old Bible. Their Dispersion spreads these Witnesses 
thro' all parts of the World. The Adherence to their 
Religion makes their Testimony unquestionable. Had 
the whole Body of the Jews been converted to Chris- 
tianity, we should certainly have thought all the Prophecies 
of the Old Testament, that relate to the Coming and 
History of our Blessed Saviour, forged by Christians, and 
have looked upon them, with the Prophecies of the 
Sybils, as made many Years after the Events they pre- 
tended to foretell." 

This cold-blooded habit of drawing from the sufferings 
of fellow-men an assurance of our own salvation is still 
cultivated by many good Christians. It is a comfortable 
doctrine, though not particularly complimentary to 

But if the progress of reason is slow, it is sure. A 

1723 few years after the publication of Addison's essay, the 
Jews already established in England were recognised as 

1725 British subjects. Two years later a Jewish mathematician 
was made Fellow of the Royal Society, and not long after 
a Jew became secretary and librarian of the Society. 
Judges also refrained from summoning Jewish witnesses 
on the Sabbath. The concession of 1723 was followed, 

1753 thirty years later, by the right of naturalisation. But, 
even then, though the Commons passed the Bill, the 
Lords and the Bishops endorsed it, and King George II. 


ratified it, so loud an outcry from traders and theologians 
arose thereat that the gift had to be revoked. " No more 
Jews, no wooden shoes," was the elegant refrain in which 
the British public sang its sentiments on the subject, and 
the effigy of an enlightened Deacon, who had defended 
the Act, was burnt publicly at Bristol. England, which 
in the Middle Ages had been induced to persecute and 
expel the Jews by the example of the Continent, was 
once more to be influenced by the Continental attitude 
towards the race. Fortunately, this influence was now of 
a different kind. 



About the middle of the eighteenth century a new spirit 
had arisen on the Continent of Europe ; or rather the 
spirit of the Renaissance, suppressed in Italy, had re- 
asserted itself in Central Europe under a more highly 
developed form. Seventeen hundred years had passed 
since the heavenly choir sang on the plain of Bethlehem 
the glorious anthem, " Peace on earth, good-will toward 
men." And the message which had been blotted out in 
blood, while the myth and the words were worshipped, 
was once more heard in a totally different version. Those 
who delivered it were not angels, but men of the world ; 
the audience not a group of rude Asiatic shepherds, but 
the most polished of European publics ; and the tongue in 
which it was delivered not the simple Aramaic of Palestine, 
but the complex vehicle of modern science. Once more 
man, by an entirely new route, had arrived at the one 
great truth, the only true commandment: "Love one 
another, O ye creatures of a day. Bear with one another's 
faults and follies. Life is too brief for hatred; human 
blood too precious to be wasted in mutual destruction." 
It was the age of Voltaire, Diderot and Jean Jacques 
Rousseau in France; of Lessing and Mendelssohn in 
Germany. The doctrine of universal charity and happi- 
ness which, like its ancient prototype, was later to be 
inculcated at the point of the sword and illustrated by 
rape, murder, fire and famine, as yet found its chief 
expression in poetical visions of freedom and in philo- 
sophical theories of equality promulgated by sanguine 
Encyclopaedists. It was a period of lofty aspirations not 


yet degraded by mediocre performance ; and the Jews, who 
had hitherto passively or actively shared in every stage of 
Europe's progress, were to participate in this development 
also. Unlike the earlier awakenings of the fifteenth and 
sixteenth centuries, this call for tolerance did not die away 
on the confines of Christendom. The time had come for 
the question to be put : " Sind Christ und Jude eher Christ 
und Jude als Mensch?" Israel was destined to receive at 
the hands of Reason what Conscience had proved unable 
to grant. And in this broader awakening both Teuton 
and Latin were united. The French philosophers served 
the cause of toleration by teaching that all religions are 
false; the German by teaching that they are all true. 

But, ere this triumph could be achieved, the Jews had 
to overcome many and powerful enemies. Among these 
were the two most famous men of the century. 

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and ardent friend 1740-86 
of philosophy, appears anything but great or philosophical 
in his policy towards the children of Israel. Under his 
reign the prohibitive laws of the Middle Age were 
revived in a manner which exceeded mediaeval legislation 
in thoroughness, though it could not plead mediaeval 
barbarism as an excuse. Only a limited number of Jews 
were permitted to reside in Frederick's dominions. By 
the "General Privilege" of 1750 they were divided into 
two categories. In the first were included traders and 
officials of the Synagogue. These had a hereditary right 
of residence restricted to one child in each family. The 
right for a second child was purchased by them for 
70,000 thalers. The second division embraced persons 
of independent means tolerated individually; but their 
right of abode expired with them. The marriage regula- 
tions were so severe that they condemned poor Jews to 
celibacy ; while all Jews, rich and poor alike, were 
debarred from liberal professions, and they all were 
fleeced by taxes ruinous at once and ludicrous. 

Voltaire, the arch-enemy of Feudalism, yet defended 
the feudal attitude towards the Jews. His enmity for the 
race did not spring entirely from capricious ill-humour. 
He had a grudge against the Jews owing to some 


pecuniary losses sustained, as he complained, through the 
bankruptcy of a Jewish capitalist of the name of Medina. 
The story, as told by the inimitable story-teller himself, 
is worth repeating : " Medina told me that he was not 
to blame for his bankruptcy : that he was unfortunate, 
that he had never been a son of Belial. He moved me, 
I embraced him, we praised God together, and I lost my 
money. I have never hated the Jewish nation ; I hate 
nobody." 1 

But this was not all. Whilst in Berlin, Voltaire waged a 
1750-51 protracted warfare against a Hebrew jeweller. It was a con- 
test between two great misers, each devoutly bent on over- 
reaching the other. According to a good, if too emphatic, 
judge, " nowhere, in the Annals of Jurisprudence, is there 
a more despicable thing, or a deeper involved in lies and 
deliriums," than this Voltaire-Hirsch lawsuit. 2 It arose 
out of a transaction of illegal stock-jobbing. Voltaire 
had commissioned the Jew Hirsch to go to Dresden and 
purchase a number of Saxon Exchequer bills — which were 
payable in gold to genuine Prussian holders only — giving 
him for payment a draft on Paris, due after some weeks, 
and receiving from him a quantity of jewels in pledge, 
till the bills were delivered. Hirsch went to Dresden, 
but sent no bills. Voltaire, suspecting foul play, stopped 
payment of the Paris draft, and ordered Hirsch to come 
back at once. On the Jew's arrival an attempt at settle- 
ment was made. Voltaire asked for his draft and offered 
to return the diamonds, accompanied with a sum of 
money covering part of the Jew's travelling expenses. 
Hirsch on examining the diamonds declared that some of 
them had been changed, and declined to accept them. 
It was altogether a mauvaise affaire, and to this day it 
remains a mystery which of the two litigants was more 

The case ended in a sentence which forced Hirsch to 
restore the Paris draft and Voltaire to buy the jewels at a 
price fixed by sworn experts. Hirsch was at liberty to 
appeal, if he could prove that the diamonds had been 

1 Quoted in H. Graetz's History of the Jeivs, vol. v. p. 359. 
2 T. Carlyle, History of Frederick the Great, bk. xvi. ch. vii. 


tampered with. In the meantime he was fined ten thalers 
for falsely denying his signature. Voltaire shrieked 
hysterically, trying to convince the world and himself that 
he had triumphed. But the world, at all events, refused 
to be convinced. The scandal formed the topic of con- 
versation and comment throughout the civilised world. 
Frederick's own view of the case was that his friend 
Voltaire had tried " to pick Jew pockets," but, instead, 
had his own pocket picked of some ^150, and, moreover, 
he was made the laughing-stock of Europe in pamphlets 
and lampoons innumerable — one of these being a French 
comedy, Tantale en Proces, attributed by some to Frederick 
himself; a poor production wherein the author ridicules 
— to the best of his ability — the unfortunate philosopher. 
The incident was not calculated to sweeten Voltaire's 
temper, or to enhance his affection for the Jewish people. 
Vain and vindictive, the sage, with all his genius and his 
many amiable qualities, never forgot an injury or forgave 
a defeat. 

On the other hand, the Jews could boast not a few 
allies. Among the champions of humanity, in the noblest 
sense of the term, none was more earnest than Gotthold 
Ephraim Lessing, the prince of modern critics. His pure 
and lofty nature had met with her kindred in Moses 
Mendelssohn, the Jewish philosopher, born within the 
same twelvemonth. The friendship which bound these 1728-9 
two children of diverse races and creeds together was a 
practical proof of Lessing' s own doctrine that virtue is 
international, and that intellectual affinity recognises no 
theological boundaries. This doctrine, already preached 
in most eloquent prose, found an artistic embodiment, and 
a universal audience, in Nathan der Weise — the first 1779 
appearance of the Jew on the European stage as a human 
being, and a human being of the very highest order. 
The Wise Nathan was no other than Moses Mendelssohn, 
scarcely less remarkable a person than Lessing himself. 
Years before Mendelssohn had left his native town of 
Dessau and trudged on to Berlin in search of a future. 
A friendless and penniless lad, timid, deformed, and 
repulsively ugly, he was with the utmost difficulty 


admitted into the Prussian capital, of which he was to 
become an ornament. For long years after his arrival 
in Berlin, the gifted and destitute youth laboured and 
waited with the patient optimism of one conscious of 
his own powers, until an unwilling world was forced 
to recognise the beauty and heroism of the soul 
which lurked under that most unpromising exterior ; 
and the Jewish beggar lad, grown into an awkward, 
stuttering and insignificant-looking man, gradually rose 
to be the idol of a salon — the eighteenth century 
equivalent for a shrine — at which every foreign visitor 
of distinction and culture, irrespective of religion 
or nationality, deemed it an honour to be allowed to 
worship. Though faithful to the cult of his Hebrew 
fathers, Mendelssohn was deeply imbued with Hellenic 
thought and sense of beauty. His famous dialogue, 
Phaedo, or the Immortality of the Soul, might have been 
written by Plato, had Plato lived in the eighteenth 
century ; so much so that an enthusiastic pastor and 
physiognomist of Zurich, enchanted by Mendelssohn's 
masterpiece, declared that he saw the spirit of Socrates 
not only in every line of the book, but in every line of 
the author's face. Like a present-day phrenologist, Lava- 
ter was anxious to obtain a model of Mendelssohn's head 
as an advertisement for his science ; but, being in addi- 
tion a pious evangelical minister, he also nourished hopes 
of winning Mendelssohn over to the Christian faith. In 
both these objects of his ambition the well-meaning 
physiognomist was sadly disappointed. 

The great work of Mendelssohn's life is the partial 
reconciliation which by his writings he assisted in effecting 
between the two worlds that had so long misjudged and 
mistrusted each other. His translation of the Penta- 
teuch into pure German inaugurated for the Jews of 
Germany a new era of literary activity. By sub- 
stituting modern German for the barbarous Yiddish in 
their education the book established an intellectual bond 
between them and their Christian fellow-countrymen. 
Lessing made the Jew known to the Gentile; Men- 
delssohn made the Gentile known to the Jew. And 


even the hostility of Frederick, the master of legions, 
the sneers of Voltaire, the master of laughter, and the 
bigotry of the Protestant public and of the Synagogue 
prevailed not against the united endeavours of the 
two apostles. In 1763 Mendelssohn carried off the 
prize offered by the Academy of Berlin for an essay on 
a philosophical subject, beating no less a competitor than 
Kant. In the same year Frederick, who three years 
before, enraged at some thinly-veiled disparagement of 
his verses by the Jewish critic, had been prevented from 
punishing him only by the fear of French ridicule, was 
induced to honour Mendelssohn by granting him the 
status of a Protected Jew. 

Among Mendelssohn's young contemporaries three are 
pre-eminent as representatives of the new Hebrew 
culture : Herz, Ben David, and Maimon. Herz was 
Kant's favourite pupil and distinguished himself as a 
popular exponent of his master's philosophy. Ben David 
was a mathematician and a student of Kant's philosophy. 
On the latter subject he lectured at the University of 
Vienna and afterwards in Berlin. Maimon was a Polish 
Jew who had inherited restlessness of body from his 
fathers and restlessness of mind from the writings of his 
great namesake Maimonides. He wandered over the 
limitless and cheerless desert of Negation, sought to slake 
his thirst at the mirage of the Cabbala, or to forget it in 
the mysticism of the " Pious," and finally, at the age of 
five-and-twenty, quitting home and family with the readi- 
ness characteristic of the born vagrant, he arrived in 
Berlin, unwashed, unkempt, and untaught in any tongue 
but his native jargon of Germano-Polish Hebrew. Some 
time afterwards, however, he became famous by the 
publication of an Autobiography — a work worthy to 
stand beside Rousseau's Confessions in one respect at 
least : its unsparing and almost savage unreserve. Its 
sincerity was doubted by George Eliot and by other 
critics also. But Schiller and Goethe were both im- 
pressed by this work, and Maimon was honoured with 
the latter poet's acquaintance. 

Gradually there was formed in the capital of Prussia a 


wide circle of intellectual Jews and Jewesses, which stood 
in strong contrast to the proud and stupid nobility on the 
one hand and to the homely and stupid bourgeoisie on the 
other. Between these two frigid zones spread the Jewish 
class of men and women rich in money and brains, culti- 
vating French literature, wit, and infidelity. Mendels- 
sohn's house was at first the centre of this circle, and after 
his death it was succeeded by that of Herz, whose own 
brilliancy was eclipsed by that of his wife. In her salon 
were to be met more celebrities than at Court. Mirabeau 
was captivated by the gifted Jewess's charm, and little by 
little even the wives of distinguished men began to ac- 
knowledge the beautiful Henrietta's attraction. Another 
literary salon was at the same time opened by a Jewish 
lady in Vienna, and it attained an equal degree of social 
success. These are only a few examples of that spiritual 
emancipation which accelerated the political emancipation 
of Israel in Europe. It is true that the intoxication of 
freedom produced a certain amount of frivolity, im- 
morality, and blind imitation of Gentile vice ; for many 
Jews and Jewesses, having once broken loose of the 
Synagogue, drifted into profligacy. But where there is 
much ripe fruit there must always be some that is 

The campaign for the removal of Jewish disabilities, 
begun by the two friends, was continued by others. In 
178 1 Christian William Dohm, a distinguished German 
author and disciple of Mendelssohn's, advocated the cause 
in an eloquent treatise in which he not only reviewed the 
pathetic history of the Jews in Europe, and defended them 
against the venerable slanders of seventeen hundred years, 
but also discussed practical measures for the amelioration 
of their lot. The plea was read by thousands, and, 
though refuted by many, it was approved by more. Its 
earliest tangible effect, however, was produced, not in 
Berlin, but in Vienna. The new spirit had penetrated 
into the remotest corners of the German world. Austria, 
long a by-word among the Jews as a house of bondage, 
established an era of toleration under the philosophical 
monarch Joseph II., who, soon after the appearance of 


Dohm's work, abolished many of the imposts paid by the 
children of Israel, granted them permission to pursue all 
arts and sciences, trades and handicrafts, admitted them to 
the universities and academies, founded and endowed 
Jewish schools, and, in pursuance of his futile plan to 
secure internal harmony by the Germanisation of the 
various races of his Empire, he made the study of German 
compulsory on all Jewish adults. The reign of toleration, 1782 
it is true, ended with the good monarch's life; but 
nevertheless it forms a landmark on the road to 

Meanwhile, in Germany also, the new gospel was 
fighting its way laboriously to the front. The death of 
Frederick the Great removed a great obstacle from the 
path of the advocates of the Jewish cause. Under his 
successor, Frederick William II., a commission was 
appointed to investigate the complaints of the Prussian 
Jews and to suggest remedies ; and the Jews were asked 
to choose " honest men " from amongst themselves, with 
whom the matter might be discussed. The Jewish 
deputies laid before the commission all their grievances ; 1787 
and the poll-tax, levied upon every Jew who crossed or 
re-crossed the frontiers of a city or province, was abolished 
in Prussia. But the Jews justly pronounced this con- 
cession as falling far below their hopes and their needs. 
German public opinion was still averse to Jewish emanci- 
pation, and its prejudices were shared even by such men 
as Goethe and Fichte, both of whom, though representing 
opposite political ideals and though despising Christianity, 
yet agreed in the orthodox estimate of the Jew — and that 
in spite of the admiration which the former entertained 
for " the divine lessons " of Nathan der Weise. Thus, 
though the good seed had been sown in German soil, it 
was not in Germany that the flower saw the light of 
the sun. 

Notwithstanding Voltaire's unfriendly utterances regard- 
ing the Jews, the general tenour of his teaching was, of 
course, in favour of toleration, and it was on the French 
side of the Rhine that Lessing's intellectual dream was to 
find its first realisation in practical politics. Montesquieu, 


moved to righteous indignation by the sight of the 
suffering Marranos in Portugal, had already protested 

1 748 against the barbarous treatment of the Jews in his Esprit 
des Lois, stigmatising its injustice, and demonstrating the 
injury which it had caused to various countries. Nor did 
he argue in vain. Since the middle of the sixteenth 
century there had been Jewish communities in France, 
consisting of refugees from Spain and Portugal. But 
they were only tolerated as pseudo-Christians. Dis- 
simulation was absolutely necessary for self-preservation, 
and these hypocrites in spite of themselves were obliged 
to have their marriages solemnised at church, and other- 
wise to conform to rites which they detested. To these 
immigrants were gradually added new-comers from 
Germany and Poland, whom the Portuguese Jews depised 
and persecuted in a most revolting manner. An inter- 
necine feud between these two classes of refugees at 
Bordeaux gave King Louis XV. an opportunity of inter- 

1760 fering in the affairs of the community. The Portuguese 
section passed a resolution calumniating their poor 
co-religionists, and trying to procure their exclusion as 
sturdy beggars and vagabonds. The communal resolu- 
tion was submitted to the king, and every stone was 
turned to obtain his ratification of the iniquitous statute. 
Truly, there is no tyrant like a slave. Soon after 
Louis XV. issued an order expelling all the stigmatised 
Jews from Bordeaux within a fortnight; but in the 
chaos which pervaded French administration at that time 
there was a gulf between the issue and the execution of 
royal edicts, which, happily for the wretched outcasts, 
was never bridged over. Meanwhile the protest against 
the servile position to which Israel had been doomed for 
ages gained in strength, and, as its first result, the Jews 

1 776 of Paris obtained a legal confirmation of the right of 
abode in the capital of France. 

Far worse was the condition of the Jew in Alsace — a 
district German in everything save political allegiance. 
In that province oppression was of that dull, chronic 
kind which begets degradation without driving its victims 
to violent despair. The Jews in Alsace were simply 


regarded and treated as inferior animals. They lived in 
jealously guarded ghettos, egress from which had to be 
purchased from the local officials. The right of abode 
was vested in the hands of the feudal nobility ; the same 
limitations as to the number of residents and marriages 
prevailed, and the same extortions were practised there 
as in Germany. The Jews had to pay tribute to king, 
bishop, and lord paramount for protection, besides the 
taxes levied by the barons on whose domains they dwelt, 
and the irregular gifts wrung out of them by the barons' 
satellites. And, while money was demanded at every 
turn, most of the avenues through which money comes 
were closed to the Jews, cattle-dealing and jewellery being 
the only trades which they were permitted to pursue 
openly. The profits derived from these pursuits were, of 
course, supplemented by surreptitious and, consequently, 
excessive usury. This last occupation exposed the Jew to 
the hatred of the simple country folk, and to blackmail on 
the part of crafty informers. The discontent, fomented 
by the clergy and the local magistrates, culminated in a 
petition to Louis XVI., imploring his Majesty to expel 
the accursed race from Alsace. But it was too late in the 
day. The movement in favour of toleration had made 
too much headway. An enquiry was instituted, and the 
ringleader of the anti- Jewish agitation — a legal rogue 
rejoicing in the name of Hell — was convicted of black- 
mail and banished from the province, instead of the Jews. 1780 
At the same time the latter presented to the King a 
memorial, drawn up by Dohm, and obtained a consider- 
able alleviation of the burdens under which they groaned, 
of the restrictions which hampered their commercial 
activity, and of the missionary zeal of the Catholic priests, 
which threatened the religion of their children. Finally, 
they were relieved of the odious capitation tax in 1784, 
the year which witnessed the triumph of Beaumarchais' 
Manage de Figaro at the Theatre Francais — a rapier 
thrust at the dotard giant of feudalism, none the less 
deadly because inflicted amid peals of laughter ; to be 
followed by the fall of the Bastille and of other things. 
In the same year a Royal Commission was appointed to 


revise the laws concerning the Jews and to remove their 

The Revolution did not stem the current of toleration. 
In 1789 the National Assembly met in Paris : a council 
of twelve hundred spiritual and secular fathers patriotically 
sworn to formulate a new creed — an object which, despite 
pandemonic wrangling and jangling and chaotic disorder 
of thought and action, they contrived to achieve in that 
memorable document, the Declaration of the Rights of 
Man. The National or, as it now calls itself, Constituent 
Assembly is the " station for all augury," whither repair 
all mortals in distress and doubt. Petitions pour in from 
every side, and among these is one from the Jews, 
especially the down-trodden Jews of Alsace. They also 
come forward to claim a share in the new Elysium, to 
assert their rights as men. Mirabeau, who already towers 
high above his brother-councillors, and is looked upon as 
the one seer among many speakers — the one living force 
among fleeting shades — espouses the Jewish claim. 
Three years earlier he had published a work On 
Mendelssohn and the Political Reform of the Jews. He 
now sets himself to demolish the remnants of the ancient 
prejudice still cherished by some of the clerical friends of 

The task was not an easy one. Besides Mirabeau, 
the Abbe Gregoire, and Clermont-Tonnerre, there were 
scarcely any politicians of note in France who cared for the 
Jews. The Declaration of the Rights of Man, while 
abolishing the religious disabilities of Protestants, made no 
provision for the Jews. Even the French public of 1789 
was not yet quite ripe for so revolutionary a measure as 
the admission of the Jew to that equality of citizenship 
which it declared to be the birthright of every human 
being. A statute of January 28 th, 1790, enfranchised the 
Jews of the south of France who had always held a 
privileged position ; but this exception on behalf of a few 
only emphasised the disabilities of the many. The bulk 
of the race, especially in Alsace, continued to be treated as 
outcasts, until the more advanced section of the Parisian 
public, under the leadership of the advocate Godard, 


appealed to the people of the capital for its opinion on the 
matter. Fifty-three out of the sixty districts voted in 
favour of the Jews, and the Commune gave a practical 179° 
expression to the feelings of the majority in the form of Feb - 2 5 
an address laid before the Assembly. But it was not till 
nineteen months after that a definite decision was arrived 
at, partly by the eloquent advocacy of Talleyrand, who 
pointed out to the Assembly that the only difference 
between ordinary Frenchmen and French Jews was their 
religion. In every other respect they were fellow- 
countrymen and brothers. If, therefore, religion were 
allowed to interfere with their enfranchisement, that would 
be a denial of the principles of the Revolution — a flagrant 
breach of all those laws of humanity and civil equality for 
which the French people were fighting. These arguments 179 1 
prevailed in the end, and the French Jews were formally Se P t- 27 
enfranchised. For the first time since the destruction of 
the Temple the children of Israel, who had hitherto 
sojourned as strangers in foreign realms, hated, baited, and 
hunted from place to place, without a country, without a 
home, without civil or political rights, are citizens. Hence- 
forth the name Juif, made hateful by the horrors of 
centuries, is to be forgotten in the new appellation of 

The storm that raged during the next three years left 
the French Jews comparatively unscathed. Israel had - 
long taken to heart the lesson embodied in the oriental 
proverb, " The head that is bent is spared by the sword." 
In some districts, it is true, the enemies of all religion also 
tried to suppress the Jewish " superstition " ; but on the 
whole the Jews came through the ordeal better than might 
have been expected. The Constitution of 1795 confirmed 
the decrees of the National Assembly. 

Holland, as we have seen, had long been a home for 
the persecuted sons of Israel. But the full rights of 
citizenship were not conceded to them until 1796, when 
closer relations with France enabled the gospel of liberty, 
equality, and fraternity to complete the work of toleration 
begun by enlightened commercial policy. The gift, how- 
ever, was not welcomed by the heads of the community. 


The jealous Synagogue, which had persecuted poor Uriel 
Acosta to death, and excommunicated Spinoza in the 
preceding century, was still determined to guard its 
masterful hold upon its members. The new duties and 
rights which accompanied the gift, it was feared, would 
render the Jews less dependent upon their religious 
pastors. The Rabbis, supported by the Portuguese 
element which formed the aristocracy of the community 
and, like all aristocracies, abhorred innovation, offered a 
strenuous resistance to emancipation. They indited a 
circular epistle declaring that the Jews renounced their 
rights of citizenship as contrary to the commands of Holy 
Writ. They endorsed all the objections raised by the 
enemies of Jewish emancipation — namely, that the Jews, 
owing to their traditions of the past and their expectation 
of the Messiah, are and shall ever be strangers in the land 
— and they prevented their flock from accepting the 
invitation to vote in the elections to the National 
Assembly. On the other hand, the Liberal party, led by 
Jews of German descent, endeavoured to weaken the 
power of the Rabbis. The two sections banned each 
other heartily, and the distance between them grew wider 
as the Liberals went further and further along the path 
of reform. This difference of views led to a schism 
between the lovers of the new and the slaves of the 

In England prejudice was still so strong that as late as 
1783 we find the Jews excluded from the benefit of the 
Irish Naturalisation Act, passed that year. Yet there 
appears a faint reflection of Lessing's teaching in some of 
the writings which bring the century to a close. Richard 
Cumberland, the friend of Burke and Reynolds, Garrick 
and Goldsmith, banteringly eulogized by the last-named 
author as " the Terence of England, the mender of 
hearts," wrote, in collaboration with Burgess, the Exodiad, 
a long epic, consisting of eight dull books, wherein the 
two bards sing the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and 
their journey through the desert. The work begins, after 
the fashion of epics, with the orthodox invocation of the 
Muse in a single breathless period: 


" Of Israel, by Jehovah's mighty power 
From long captivity redeem'd, with loss 
And total overthrow of Egypt's host, 
What time the chosen servant of the Lord 
From Goshen to the land of promise led 
Through the divided sea the ransom'd tribes, 
Sing, heavenly Muse, and prop those mortal powers, 
Which but for thy sustaining aid must sink 
Under the weight of argument so vast, 
Scenes so majestic, subject so sublime." 

It ends with a parting speech from Moses at the point 
of death : 

" ' My ministry is finish'd ; in thine hands, 
Blest of the Lord, O Joshua ! I have put 
The book of life, and in thine arms expire.' 

He ceas'd, and instantly the hand of death 
Press'd on his heart and stopp'd its vital pulse ; 
His eye-lids dropt upon their sightless balls : 
One deep-drawn sigh dismiss'd his parting soul ; 
To heaven it rose ; his body sank to earth, 
And God's archangel guarded his remains." 

In charming contrast to this portentous rhapsody stands 
Goldsmith's own tender oratorio, "The Captivity. It deals 
with the sons of Israel in exile, working and weeping on 
the banks of the Euphrates; yet keeping their hearts 
turned longingly to the fields of Sharon, the plains of 
Kedron, the cedar-clad hills of Lebanon, and Zion. " In- 
sulted, chained, and all the world their foe," the captives 
nourish their faith in the God of their fathers : 

" Our God is all we boast below, 
To him we turn our eyes ; 
And every added weight of woe 
Shall make our homage rise." 

Thus sings the chorus of Prophets in Exile. Yet, even 
in the midst of their woes, they see cause for pride and 
self-glorification : They are the only worshippers of the 
true God ; the rest of the world worships idle idols : 

" Are not, this very morn, those feasts begun, 
Where prostrate Error hails the rising sun ? 
Do not our tyrant lords this day ordain 
For superstitious rites and mirth profane ? 


And should we mourn ? should coward Virtue fly. 
When vaunting Folly lifts her head on high I 
No ! rather let us triumph still the more, 
And as our fortune sinks, our spirit soar." 

Faith has its reward. While the captives bewail their 
lot, deliverance is close at hand. The star of Cyrus has 
risen ; Babylon the proud falls, and the prophecy concern- 
ing the restoration of Israel is fulfilled. 

But strong as is the sympathy with the fortunes and the 
spirit of Israel in both these works, neither of them can be 
legitimately considered as bearing directly on the Jewish 
question. The Shylock tradition is still powerful in 
England, for want of a Lessing. It is not ponderous 
poetasters, like Cumberland and Burgess, nor yet sweet 
singers like the gentle Goldsmith, who will overthrow a 
convention hallowed by the genius of a Shakespeare. 



The French Revolution is over. For a while the volcanic 
forces, which had long groaned in subterranean bondage, 
broke their prison, burst into the light of day, and 
brought death and desolation upon the face of the earth. 
But their task is done. Nemesis has obtained the due 
and forfeit of her bond, and the Titans have returned to 
their Tartarean abode, until such time as their services 
may be needed again. A sentimentalist will, no doubt, 
find much to lament in the unsparing fury of the avengers. 
Their hand has struck down everything that stood high — 
good, evil, and indifferent alike — with elemental impartiality. 
But the philosopher may, on the whole, see reason to 
rejoice. At all events, he will, if he happens to be a Jew. 
For among the ruins of tyranny he will recognise the 
rusty chains which had for centuries weighed upon the 
limbs of Israel. They are gone, whatever may have 
survived. Whatever may be said of the rest, they were 
an evil. The Jew sees nothing but the hand of God in 
the desolation wrought by another. For him the Powers 
of Darkness had broken their prison ; for him the proud 
ones of the earth had been laid low ; for him the dreams 
of freedom dreamt by the poets and thinkers of France 
had been turned into a reality of despotism. What 
matter ? Cyrus was a despot, and yet a deliverer of 
Israel ; Alexander was another ; and Napoleon was doubt- 
less destined to be the third. Strange, indeed, are the 
ways of the Lord, but His mercy endureth for ever 
toward Israel. 

The hopes of the Jews were not disappointed. The 


work of enfranchisement, commenced by philosophers 
like Montesquieu, and carried on by patriots like 
Mirabeau, was completed by Napoleon. Though deeply 
sensible of the disagreeable fact that usury and extortion 
had been the favourite pursuits of the Jews from time 
immemorial, Napoleon did not allow himself to be biassed 
by the mediaeval view of the matter. Like Alexander 
the Great, Caesar, Charlemagne, and Cromwell, he saw 
the advantage of securing the support of so numerous, so 
opulent, and so scattered a nation as the Israelites, and 
one at least of his motives undoubtedly was to conciliate 
the Jews of Old Prussia, Poland, and Southern Russia, in 
the hope of profiting by their sympathy and assistance 
in the contest in which he was then engaged. While 
depriving individual Jews, notorious for rapacity, of their 
civil rights, and restricting the operations of the Jews of 
the north-east of France by temporarily refusing to them 
the right to sequester the goods of their debtors, the 
Emperor decided to hear the Jewish side of the 
question. By his order an assembly of Hebrew notables 

1806 from the French and German departments, as well as 
J ul y from Italy, was summoned in Paris. Twelve questions 

were put to the delegates concerning the Jew's attitude 
towards the Gentile, the authority of the Rabbis, usury 
and conscription ; and, on the answers proving satis- 
factory, Napoleon astonished the assembly with an 
announcement which no Jewish ear had ever hoped to 
hear in Europe. The Sanhedrin, or National Council 
of Israel, after a prorogation of seventeen centuries, was 
once more convoked. The Hebrew polity had outlasted 
the heathen Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, 
Feudalism, and the French Monarchy. Time and the 
seismic convulsions which had overthrown these mighty 
fabrics, once regarded as eternal, had respected the 
humble institutions of the outcasts of humanity. The 
constitutions of other nations were built upon the earth 
and were subject to the laws which govern earthly 
things ; the constitution of the Jews was preserved in the 

1807 archives of Heaven, and was therefore immortal. And 
Feb. 9 so, at a word from Napoleon, seventy-one delegates of 


the French and Italian Jewries were gathered together in 
Paris, elected by the synagogues of the two countries in 
accordance with the ancient forms and usages of Israel. 

The fruit of the Sanhedrins deliberations was a charter 1807 
which defined the relations between Jew and Gentile in March 2 
France. While retaining the essential features of Judaism, 
the Rabbis wisely conceded much to the demands of the 
country which so generously adopted them. The Nine 
Responses of the document form a rational compromise 
between the rights of God and the rights of Caesar : 
polygamy is forbidden ; divorce is allowed in accordance 
with the civil law of the land ; intermarriage with the 
Gentiles is tolerated, though not sanctioned, by the 
Synagogue ; French Jews are bidden to regard the 
French people as brethren ; acts of justice and charity 
are recommended towards all believers in the Creator, 
without distinction of creed ; Jews born in France are 
exhorted to look upon the country as their fatherland, 
to educate their children in its language, to acquire 
real property in it, to renounce pursuits hated by their 
neighbours, and in every way to endeavour to earn the 
esteem and goodwill of the latter ; usury is forbidden 
towards the stranger as towards the brother ; and the 
interest raised on loans is not, in any case, to exceed 
the legal rate. Thus an effective answer was given to 
all the legal arguments which had been advanced by 
the opponents of Jewish emancipation, and an honest 
attempt was made by the doctors and chiefs of the 
nation to remove from the children of Israel a portion 
at least of that odium under which they had so long 

When the Sanhedrin had brought its labours to an 
end, the Emperor repealed the exceptional measures 
of 1806 and recognised the Consistorial organisation 1808 
which for a century fixed the status of Israel i n Marchl 7 
France. Every two thousand Jews were to form a 
community under a synagogue and a board of trustees, 
with Paris for their centre. Napoleon, it is true, 
while granting this liberal charter, was compelled to 
yield to the anti-Jewish prejudices of the people of Alsace 


and other parts of Eastern France, where the Jew was 
hated more than ever, for the disasters of the Reign of 
Terror and the distress caused by Napoleon's campaigns, 
by impoverishing the peasants, had delivered them up to 
the tender mercies of the money-lender. In accordance 
with the wishes of the inhabitants of those districts 
Napoleon took some steps highly detrimental to Jewish 
interests. He enacted, for example, that loans to minors, 
women, soldiers and domestic servants, as well as loans 
raised on agricultural implements, should be null ; that 
no more Jews should be allowed to enter Alsace ; that 
every Jew should serve in the army ; and that no Jew 
should engage in trade without permission from the 
Prefect. The duration of this decree was limited to ten 
years. But, such local disadvantages and the indignation 
aroused thereby notwithstanding, the well-earned grati- 
tude of Israel was expressed in many Hebrew hymns 
composed in honour of the Deliverer whom the Lord 
had raised for His people. 

A few years afterwards even these enactments were with- 
drawn, and the Jews were accorded complete equality, civil 
and political. From 1814 till 1831 French legislation, 
despite certain fluctuations under the brief restoration of 
the Bourbons, was enriched with various Acts, all tending 
to lift the Israelites to a position worthy of their country, 
and schools were established for the education of the Rabbis, 
who since the latter date until recently were regarded as 
public functionaries and were paid by the State. 1 Two 
1833 years later the French Government gave a signal proof of 
its interest in the welfare of the Jewish portion of the 
French people by suspending relations with a Swiss canton 
which had denied justice to a French Israelite on account 
of his religion. For in Switzerland, when the French 
domination expired, the old prejudices came to life again, 

1 This arrangement was abolished by the Separation Law pro- 
mulgated on December 9, 1905, when the Republic resolved neither 
" to recognise, pay salaries to, nor subsidise any form of worship." 
The Jews have shared the effects of this Act with the Protestants 
and Roman Catholics of France, and like the former of these 
Christian denominations, and unlike the latter, readily accepted 
the change. 


and it was not till 1874 that political equality was accorded 
to the Swiss Jews. 

Meanwhile Napoleon's arms had carried on, even 
outside France, the work begun by the philosophers of 
the preceding generation. The Inquisition was crushed 
in every Catholic country under the Emperor's heel, 
while in Germany Napoleon's conquest brought to the 1805 
Jews a relief which departed with the French legions, to 
return by slow degrees in the succeeding years. It was 
one of the bitterest examples of irony presented by 
history. The French autocrat had given to the German 
Jews freedom, and the people whom the Jews aided with 
their lives to throw off the French autocrat's yoke robbed 
them of it. In Frankfort, where the ghetto had been 
abolished in 1 8 1 1 , immediately on the French garrison's 
withdrawal a clamour arose demanding its restoration. 
In other " free towns " also, where rights of equality had 
been granted to Israel while the fear of Napoleon hung 
over them, the ancient hatred revived immediately on his 
downfall, and the old state of bondage was restored. 
Even in Prussia, where the law recognised the equality of 
the Jews in theory, slavery was their lot in reality : 
many trades and industries were prohibited to them, the 
road to academic distinction was barred to them, and 
Jews who had attained to the rank of officers during the 
War of Liberation were forced to resign their commissions. 
Nor were these disabilities removed even when the 
German Diet, which, by the Act signed in Vienna on 
June 8, 18 1 5, was to manage the affairs of the German 
Confederacy, had established the principle of religious 
freedom among the Christians, and had pledged itself to 
consider measures for improving the lot of the Jews. 

This reaction was partly due to an exaggerated senti- 
ment of nationality and hatred of everything foreign, 
aroused by the presence of the French legions in the 
country, and strengthened by the sacrifices and the suc- 
cess of the struggle for independence. National con- 
sciousness found an ally in the Christian revolt against 
the French Religion of Reason. Enthusiasm for the 
faith, which the French had overthrown, added zest 


to the enthusiasm for the fatherland, which the French 
had overrun. ' { Christian Germanism " became, not only 
a patriotic motto, but a veritable cult of a novel and 
jealous god to whom everything that was non-Christian 
and non-German, including the Jew, ought to be immolated. 
" Hep, hep ! " (Hierosolyma est perdita) became the battle- 

1819 cry of the Jew-baiters in many German towns, and the 
persecution spread even into Denmark, where the Jews 
had been placed on a footing of equality since 18 14. 

1828-30 The Prussian Government proposed a plan for the 
improvement of the social and political condition of the 
Jews, but the measure had to be abandoned owing to 
the opposition which it met with on the part of the 
representatives of the Prussian people. This return to 

1840 mediaeval intolerance once assumed in Prussia the 
mediaeval form of a blood-accusation ; but the charge 
only served to establish the innocence of the Jews and 
the stupid credulity of their assailants. None the less, 
it supplied a striking illustration of the retrogression of 
the public mind. For the prejudice, even when its basis 
was proved false, continued to subsist in a more or less 
latent condition among the lower intellectual strata of 
society — as prejudices have a way of doing for long 
centuries after they have vanished from the surface — and 
during the revolution of 1848, on the Upper Rhine, it 
led to a general persecution of the Jews, who sought 
refuge in the neighbouring territory of Switzerland. But 
the reaction was temporary, and the revolutionary move- 
ment proved, in the main, favourable to the cause of 
Jewish emancipation. 

Although the Prussians, fired by patriotism, had rallied 
round their king and unanimously supported him in 
the effort to deliver the country from French domina- 
tion, they had not been left untouched by the lessons 
of the French Revolution. To the Prussian patriots 
individual freedom was as precious as national inde- 
pendence. So strong was this feeling that Frederick 
William III. had been obliged to promise that at the 
end of the struggle he would reward his subjects' 
sacrifices by granting to them a representative form of 


government. But few monarchs have ever parted with 
power except under compulsion. When the War of 
Liberation was over, and the country's independence 
assured, the king forgot his promises. Hence there 
arose between the prince and his people a bitter con- 
flict, which continued under his successor. Frederick 
William IV. as Crown Prince had evinced a lively- 
sympathy with the popular demand for a Constitution ; 
but with the sceptre he inherited the absolutist principles 
of his ancestors, and strove to prop up the authority 
of the throne by the help of religion. The German 
Liberals, however, had outgrown the mediaeval notion 
that kings rule by the grace of God. They claimed 
that the will of the people should be the supreme law 
of the State, and laughed at the Sovereign's antiquated 
pretensions. The fate of the German Jews was naturally 
bound up in that of German Liberalism. 

The year 1 846 was chiefly distinguished by the agitation 
which prevailed in Prussia and all Northern Germany in 
favour of religious toleration and liberty of conscience; 
and the emancipation of the Jews was one of the demands 
submitted to the King of Prussia by the Prussian Estates, 
especially those of Cologne, Posen and Berlin, for various 
measures of domestic and social improvement, as, for 
example, the reform of criminal justice, the publication of 
the procedure of trials and of the debates of the Estates, 
and the extension of the representation of towns and 
rural communities. In the following year the question of 
Jewish emancipation was again introduced into the Prussian 1847 
Chambers and found only two opponents, one of them 
being Bismarck, who then declared that he was ' c no 
enemy of the Jews, and if they are my enemies," he 
said, " I forgive them. Under some circumstances I even 
like them. I willingly accord them every right, only not 
that of an important official power in a Christian State. 
For me the words, ' By the grace of God,' are no mere 
empty sounds, and I call that a Christian State which makes 
the end and aim of its teaching the truths of Christianity. 
If I should see a Jew a representative of the King's most 
sacred Majesty, I should feel deeply humiliated." 


However, the National Parliament which met at 
Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1848, under Liberal auspices, 
among other steps which it took in order to secure 
popular freedom, removed all religious disabilities. The 
Prussian Constitution of 1850 imitated the example; and 
the establishment of the new regime, in 1871, threw the 
doors open to the Jews throughout the German Empire. 
The Reichstag now contains many distinguished members 
of the Jewish faith. 

In Austria the edifice of toleration reared by Joseph II. 
was overthrown by his successors, Leopold II. and 
Francis I., who revived most of the antiquated restrictions 
and regulations against the Jews, and again confined them 
within special quarters. This barbarous policy lasted far 
into the nineteenth century. In many parts of the country 
the Jews were forbidden to own, or even to rent land, 
except that on which their houses stood, or to migrate 
from one province to another without special permission. 
In Austrian Poland, or Galicia, the Jews were especially 
hated. There, as elsewhere in Poland, they formed a 
vast multitude, settled in the chief towns and villages. 
The greater part of their emoluments was derived 
from the sale of intoxicating liquors, to which the Poles, 
like all northern nations, were immoderately addicted. 
From the time of Joseph II. the Jews had been by 
repeated laws prohibited from trading in alcohol. But 
these laws were disregarded. The landowners possessed 
the exclusive rights of distilling, and they had from the 
first coming of the Jews to Poland farmed out these 
rights to the latter. Deplorably enough, a number of 
the Jews, in despair of finding other means of livelihood, 
allowed themselves to become the go-betweens in this 
demoralising traffic, and thus the most temperate race 
of Europe laid itself open to the hostility and scorn of 
those who would feign have seen a check put to the 
intemperate propensities of the people and its consequent 

The condition of the Jews was incomparably better in 
the parts of the Empire upon which the rule of the Haps- 
burgs weighed less heavily. In Hungary and Transylvania 


they had long enjoyed freedom of tenure under the 
protection of the Magyar nobles. These were in the 
habit of employing Jewish bailiffs, and did not consider it 
beneath their dignity even to obey the orders of Jewish 
officers in the war for independence, in which the Jews 18 
took an important part. After the suppression of the 
rebellion the latter were made by the Imperial Govern- 
ment to pay for their patriotic ardour ; but when the day 
came for the distribution of prizes they secured their 
reward. By the Austrian Constitution of i860, which 
received its finishing touches eight years later, the Jews 
obtained full liberty. At present several Jews sit in the 
Legislature, and the race flourishes not only in Vienna, 
Budapesth, and other great towns, but even in the 
Austrian section of Poland. 

The daylight of a tolerant and liberal administration has 
chased the ghosts of the past out of Galicia. Even the 
most orthodox followers of the Synagogue are fast 
forgetting their ancient wrongs and prejudices. In olden 
times Jewish boys on their birth were imprisoned by their 
parents within a pair of stays, laced tighter and tighter 
every year, that the child's chest might remain too narrow 
for military service — a suicidal training, the evil conse- 
quences of which are to this day visible in the form of 
chest diseases and consumption among the Galician Jews. 
But the practice has long been abandoned. Humaner 
conditions in the army, and the spread of education among 
the Austro-Polish Jews, have reconciled them to the 
service, and now one half of the Galicia contingent of the 
Austro-Hungarian Army consists of Jewish recruits. The 
Empire has gained loyal defenders, and the Jews the 
benefit of a disciplinary and patriotic education. 

In Italy the Papal States were the last retreat of the 
Middle Age. The Holy Office had disappeared from 
Parma, Tuscany, and Sicily in the eighteenth century, but 
in Rome it continued to flourish ; and where the Inquisi- 
tion held sway there was no peace for Israel. The Roman 
Jews, liberated by Napoleon, were thrust back into slavery ii 
after his fall. Then the reign of darkness was restored 
under the double crown of Dogmatism and Despotism. 


The temporal power enforced the doctrines of the spiri- 
tual, and the spiritual was abused to sanctify the decrees 
of the temporal. How could the lot of the infidel Jew be 
other than what it was ? The Roman Ghetto continued 
to be the home of squalor and sorrow far into the nine- 
teenth century. As late as 1847 decrees were issued 
forbidding the inmates to quit their cage, the Jews were 
still compelled to hear sermons at church, and everything 
that bigotry could do was done to bring about their 

It is true that Pope Pius IX. inaugurated his reign with 
a display of toleration till then unparalleled in the annals 
of the Papacy. In 1 846 a general amnesty was proclaimed 
by which thousands of prisoners and exiles were pardoned 
for crimes which they had never committed, or of which 
they had never been legally convicted ; two years later the 
Jews were relieved from the necessity of listening to 
sermons ; and daylight seemed at last to have dawned 
upon Rome. But this period of liberalism proved as 
transient as it was unprecedented. The reaction soon set 
in, and the influence of the Jesuits and of obscurantism 
was re-established. In 1856 the Pope issued an encyclical 
condemning somnambulism and clairvoyance, and bidding 
all bishops to suppress the anti-Christian practices. Nine 
years later he hurled an anathema against the Freemasons 
— the deadly enemies of the Inquisition. In brief, the 
pontificate of Pius IX., despite its promising beginning, is 
chiefly distinguished for two fresh victories over reason : 
the discovery of the Immaculate Conception and the 
invention of Papal Infallibility. 

Under such conditions it is not surprising that the 
1858 Church should not hesitate to allow a nurse to baptize her 
Jewish charge secretly, and then, on the ground that the 
child was a Christian, to tear it from the arms of its parents, 
and rear it to be a monk and a persecutor of its own people. 
Obscurantism and oppression vanished from Rome only 
with the Pope's authority. For the Jews, as for the 
Christians of Rome, light came in the train of Italian 
unity. Among other mediaeval barbarities which ceased 
on the day on which the Italian Army entered Rome were 


the Inquisition and the bondage of the Jews. Israel has 
outlived Temporal Power also. In the Vatican all facili- 
ties are now given for the study of Rabbinic and Talmudic 
literature, once condemned to the flames. The pestilent 
slums of the Ghetto have been wiped off* the face of the 
earth, and there is nothing left to recall the days of dark- 
ness, save the grey old synagogue and, close by, the Tiber, 
murmuring the sad tales of a world that is past. 

In Spain also the Inquisition, suppressed by Napoleon, 1808 
revived after his fall ; but only as the shade of its former 
self. Its last victims were a Quaker and a Jew, the 1826 
former hanged, the latter roasted. But even Spain had 
to follow the tide of the times. The Jews, pitilessly 
driven out of the country when Catholicism ruled the 
Peninsula, were readmitted as soon as Catholicism faded 1837 
into a mere name. In 1881 the Spanish Government 
actually invited the Jews who fled from Russia to settle 
in its dominions. Seville, where the Holy Office had 
instituted its human sacrifices in 1480, now boasts a 
Hebrew synagogue. Israel has outlived the Spanish 
Inquisition also. 

In Portugal, when early in the nineteenth century 1821 
liberty of conscience was proclaimed, strange individuals 
from the interior of the country appeared at the syna- 
gogues of Lisbon and Oporto. They were the descendants 
of the old Marranos. For three centuries they had eluded 
the ferrets of the Holy Office and, Christians in appear- 
ance, had remained Jews at heart, waiting, as only a Jew 
can wait, for the blessed day of deliverance. They now 
emerged, and came to participate with their brethren in 
the worship of their God after the fashion of their 

Thus the good seed sown in Western Europe during the 
preceding century brought forth its fruit. England could 
not long remain a stranger to the march of events. But, 
slow as usual and averse from hasty experiments, she 
pondered while others performed. Besides, she had been 
spared the volcanic eruption of the Continent which, 
while destroying much that was venerable and valuable, 
had cleared the ground for the reception of new things. 


There is every reason to believe that the ordinary 
Englishman's view of the Jews during the first half of 
the nineteenth century differed in no respect from the 
view entertained by the ordinary American of the same 
period, as described by Oliver Wendell Holmes. 1 The 
ordinary Englishman, like his transatlantic cousin, grew 
up inheriting the traditional Protestant idea that the 
Jews were a race lying under a curse for their obstinacy 
in refusing the Gospel. The great historical Church of 
Christendom was presented to him as Bunyan depicted 
it. In the nurseries of old-fashioned English Orthodoxy 
there was one religion in the world — one religion and 
a multitude of detestable, literally damnable impositions, 
believed in by countless millions, who were doomed to 
perdition for so believing. The Jews were the believers 
in one of these false religions. It had been true once, 
but now was a pernicious and abominable lie. The 
principal use of the Jews seemed to be to lend money 
and to fulfil the predictions of the old prophets of their 
race. No doubt, the individual sons of Abraham whom 
the ordinary Englishman found in the ill-flavoured streets 
of East London were apt to be unpleasing specimens 
of the race and to confirm the prevailing view of it. 

The first unambiguous indication of a changing attitude 
towards the Jew appears in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. 
Scott in that work gives utterance to the feeling of tolera- 
tion which had gradually been growing up in the country. 
It was in 1819, during the severest season of the novelist's 
illness, that Mr. Skene of Rubislaw, his friend, "sitting by 
his bedside, and trying to amuse him as well as he could," 
spoke about the Jews, as he had known them years before 
in Germany, " still locked up at night in their own quarter 
by great gates," and suggested that a group of Jews would 
be an interesting figure in a novel. 2 The suggestion did 
not fall on stony ground. Scott's eye seized on the 
artistic possibilities of the subject, and the result was the 
group of Jews which we have in Ivanhoe. Although 
the author in introducing the characters seems to have 

1 Over the Teacups, pp. 193 fol. 

2 J. G. Lockhart, Life of Sir W. Scott, Ch. xlvi. 


been innocent of any deliberate aim at propagandism, his 
treatment of them is a sufficient proof of his own 
sympathy, and no doubt served the purpose of kindling 
sympathy in many thousands of readers. 

Not that the work attempts any revolutionary subver- 
sion of preconceived ideas. The difference between Isaac 
of York and Nathan the Wise is the same as the differ- 
ence between Scott and Lessing and their respective 
countries. The British writer does not try to persuade 
us that the person whom we abhorred a few generations 
before as an incarnation of all that is diabolical, and whom 
we still regard with considerable suspicion, is really an 
angel. Whether it be that there was no need for a revolt 
against the Elizabethan tradition, or Scott was not equal to 
the task, his portrait of the Jew does not depart too abruptly 
from the convention sanctioned by his great predecessors. 
His Isaac is not a Barabas or Shylock transformed, but only 
reformed. Though in many respects an improvement on 
both, Scott's Jew possesses all the typical attributes of his 
progenitors : wealth, avarice, cowardice, rapacity, cunning, 
affection for his kith and kin, hatred for the Gentile. 
But, whereas in both Barabas and Shylock we find love 
for the ducats taking precedence of love for the daughter, 
in Isaac the terms are reversed. It is with exquisite reluc- 
tance that he parts with his shekels in order to save his 
life. Ransom is an extreme measure, resorted to only on 
an emergency such as forces the master of a ship to cast 
his merchandise into the sea. But on hearing that his 
captor, Front-de-Bceuf, has given his daughter to be a 
handmaiden to Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Isaac throws 
himself at the knight's feet, imploring him to take all he 
possesses and deliver up the maiden. Whereupon the 
Norman, surprised, exclaims : " I thought your race had 
loved nothing save their money-bags." 

" Think not so vilely of us," answers the Jew. " Jews 
though we be, the hunted fox, the tortured wildcat, loves 
its young — the despised and persecuted race of Abraham 
love their children." 

On being told that his daughter's doom is irrevocable, 
Isaac changes his attitude. Outraged affection makes a 


hero of the Jew, and for his child's sake he dares to face 
tortures, to escape from which he had just promised to 
part even with one thousand silver pounds: 

" Do thy worst," he cries out. " My daughter is my 
flesh and blood, dearer to me a thousand times than those 
limbs which thy cruelty threatens." 

While emphasising the good qualities of the Jew, the 
author takes care to excuse the bad ones. Isaac is de- 
spoiled and spurned as much as Barabas or Shylock. But 
there is an all-important difference in Scott's manner of 
presenting these facts. He describes Isaac as a victim 
rather than as a villain, as an object of compassion rather 
than of ridicule. " Dog of a Jew," " unbelieving Jew," 
"unbelieving dog" are the usual modes of address 
employed by the mediaeval Christian towards the Jew; 
just as they are the usual modes of address employed by 
the modern Turk towards the Christian rayah. The Jews 
are "a nation of stiff-necked unbelievers," the Christian 
" scorns to hold intercourse with a Jew," his propinquity, 
nay his mere presence, is considered as bringing pollution 
— sentiments which far exceed in bitterness those enter- 
tained by the Turk towards the Christian. Under such 
circumstances Isaac makes his appearance: a grey-haired 
and grey-bearded Hebrew "with features keen and 
regular, an aquiline nose and piercing black eyes," 
wearing " a high, square, yellow cap of a peculiar fashion, 
assigned to his nation to distinguish them from the 
Christians." Thus attired, "he is introduced with little 
ceremony, and, advancing with fear and hesitation, and 
many a bow of deep humility," he takes his seat at the 
lower end of the table, " where, however, no one offers to 
make room for him." "The attendants of the Abbot 
crossed themselves, with looks of pious horror," fearing 
the contamination from " this son of a rejected people," 
" an outcast in the present society, like his people among 
the nations, looking in vain for welcome or resting 

Isaac has scarcely taken his seat, when he is addressed, 
with brutal frankness, as a creature whose vocation it is 
" to gnaw the bowels of our nobles with usury, and to 


gull women and boys with gauds and toys." So treated, 
the Jew realises that " there is but one road to the favour 
of a Christian " — money. Hence his avarice. Further- 
more, the impression of a craven and cruel miser, that 
might perhaps be derived from the above presentation, is 
softened by the author, who hastens to declare that any 
mean and unamiable traits that there may be in the Jew's 
character are due " to the prejudices of the credulous 
vulgar and the persecutions by the greedy and rapacious 

Scott endeavours to engage the reader's sympathy 
for his Jew by dwelling at great length on these causes 
of moral degradation: "except perhaps the flying fish, 
there was no race existing on the earth, in the air, or 
the waters, who were the object of such an unremitting, 
general, and relentless persecution as the Jews of this 
period." " The obstinacy and avarice of the Jews being 
thus in a measure placed in opposition to the fanaticism 
and tyranny of those under whom they lived, seemed 
to increase in proportion to the persecution with which 
they were visited." " On these terms they lived ; and 
their character, influenced accordingly, was watchful, 
suspicious, and timid — yet obstinate, uncomplying, and 
skilful in evading the dangers to which they were 
exposed." Thus we are led to the conclusion that the 
Jew's vices have grown, thanks to his treatment, his 
virtues in spite of it. For Isaac is not altogether im- 
pervious to gratitude and pity. He handsomely rewards 
the Christian who saves his life, and he himself saves a 
Christian's life by receiving him into his house and 
allowing his daughter to doctor him. 

But, just as he is to the father, Scott is more than just 
to the daughter. 1 While Isaac is at the best a reformed 
Barabas or Shylock, Rebecca is the jewel of the story. 
The author exhausts his conventional colours in painting 

1 The original of Scott's Rebecca is said to have been a real person- 
Rebecca Gratz of Philadelphia. Washington Irving, who knew Miss 
Gratz, introduced her to Scott's notice. She was bom in 1781, and 
died in 1869. Her claim to have been "the original of Rebeccain 
Ivanhoe" is sustained in a paper with that title in the Century Magazine, 
1882, pp. 679 fol. 


her beauty, and his vocabulary in singing the praises of 
her character. " Her form was exquisitely symmetrical, " 
" the brilliancy of her eyes, the superb arch of her eye- 
brows, her well-formed, aquiline nose, her teeth as white 
as pearls, and the profusion of her sable tresses," made up 
a figure which " might have compared with the proudest 
beauties of England." She is indeed " the very Bride of 
the Canticles," as Prince John remarks ; " the Rose of 
Sharon and the Lily of the Valley," as the Prior's warmer 
imagination suggests. Immeasurably superior to Abigail 
in beauty and to Jessica in virtue, she equals Portia in 
wisdom — a perfect heroine of romance. Withal there is 
in Rebecca a power of quiet self-sacrifice that raises her 
almost to the level of a saint. Altogether as noble an 
example of womanhood as there is to be found in a 
literature rich in noble women. To sum up, in contrast 
to Marlowe's and Shakespeare's creations, there is a great 
deal of the tragic, and little, if anything, of the comic in 
Scott's Jew. 

It would, however, be an error to suppose that Scott 
was the spokesman of a unanimous public. His Ivanhoe 
appeared in 1819. Four years later we find the writer 
who with Scott shared the applause of the age, giving an 
entirely different character to the Jew. The Age of Bronze, 
written in 1823, carries on the Merchant of Venice tradition. 
To Byron the Jew is simply a symbol of relentless and 
unprincipled rapacity. Referring to the Royal Exchange, 
" the New Symplegades — the crushing stocks," 

" Where Midas might again his wish behold 
In real paper or imagined gold, 

Where Fortune plays, while Rumour holds the stake, 
And the world trembles to bid brokers break," 

the poet moralises at the expense of the Jew, to whom he 
traces our own greed and recklessness in speculation : 

" But let us not to own the truth refuse, 
Was ever Christian land so rich in Jews ? 
Those parted with their teeth to good King John, 
And now, Ye Kings ! they kindly draw your own." 

Alas! times have changed since the day of "good King 


John." Now the Jews, far from being the victims of the 
royal forceps, 

" All states, all things, all sovereigns they control, 
And waft a loan ' from Indus to the pole.' 
And philanthropic Israel deigns to drain 
Her mild per-centage from exhausted Spain. 
Not without Abraham's seed can Russia march ; 
'Tis gold, not steel, that rears the conqueror's arch." 

Nor is this all. Sad as the state of things must be, since 
Spain the persecutrix has been degraded into a suppliant, 
the worst of the calamity lies in the circumstance that 
these new tyrants of poor Spain and poor Russia are a 
people apart; a people without a country; a people of 
parasites : 

" Two Jews, a chosen people, can command 
In every realm their Scripture-promised land. 
What is the happiness of earth to them r 
A congress forms their * New Jerusalem.' 
On Shylock's shore behold them stand afresh, 
To cut from nations' hearts their 'pound of flesh.'" 

But our modern Jeremiah's indignation is not altogether 
disinterested. He confesses elsewhere, with a candour 
worthy of his prophetic character, 

" In my younger days they lent me cash that way, 
Which I found very troublesome to pay." l 

And not only Byron but piety also was still inimical to 
the Jew. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose philosophy, 
in its second childhood, sought comfort in the cradle 
of theology — a not uncommon development — gives 
vent to some exceedingly quaint sentiments on the 
subject. On April 13, 1830, he declares that the 
Jews who hold that the mission of Israel is to be 
" a light among the nations " are utterly mistaken. The 
doctrine of the unity of God "has been preserved, 

1 Don Juan, Canto n. lxv. It is only fair to add that Scott also, at 
the time of his financial distress, embittered by the harsh treatment 
which he experienced at the hands of his Jewish creditors, Abud and Son, 
expressed himself in very strong terms concerning " the vagabond stock- 
jobbing Jews" in general, and the Abuds in particular. See Scott's 
Diary under dates Nov. 25, 1825, and Oct. 9, 1826, in J. G. Lockhart, 
Life of Sir W. Scott, Ch. lxv. and lxxi. 


and gloriously preached by Christianity alone." No 
nation, ancient or modern, has ever learnt this great 
truth from the Jews. "But from Christians they did 
learn it in various degrees, and are still learning it. The 
religion of the Jews is, indeed, a light ; but it is as the 
light of the glow-worm, which gives no heat, and illu- 
mines nothing but itself." 1 Here we find Coleridge, in 
the nineteenth century, reviving the complaint of Jewish 
aloofness — of the provincial and non-missionary character 
of Judaism — which was one of the causes of the Roman 
hatred towards the race in the first. Nor is this the 
only case of revival presented by Coleridge's attitude. 

Luther, three hundred years earlier had said, "I am 
persuaded if the Jews heard our preaching, and how we 
handle the Old Testament, many of them might be 
won." 2 Coleridge now says : " If Rhenferd's Essays 
were translated — if the Jews were made acquainted with 
the real argument — I believe there would be a Christian 
synagogue in a year's time." 3 He is, however, some- 
what in advance of Luther, inasmuch as he does not 
insist upon the Jews' abandoning circumcision and " their 
distinctive customs and national type," but advocates their 
admission into the Christian fold "as of the seed of 
Abraham." He is also in advance of Luther in forgiving 
the Jews their claim to be considered a superior order ; for 
he finds that this claim was also maintained by the earlier 
Christians of Jewish blood, as is attested both by St. 
Peter's conduct and by St. Paul's protests. He also 
refers to the practice of the Abyssinians — another people 
claiming descent from Abraham and preserving the 
Mosaic Law — and asks : "Why do we expect the Jews 
to abandon their national customs and distinctions ? " 
Coleridge would be satisfied with their rejection of the 
covenant of works and with their acceptance of " the 
promised fulfilment in Christ." But what really dis- 
tinguishes Coleridge's missionary zeal from that of the 
great Reformer is his demand that the Jews should be 
addressed " kindly." It is hard to imagine Coleridge in 
1 T able-Talk. 2 Luther's Table-Talk, Ch. 8 5 2 . 

3 Coleridge's Table-Talk, April 14, 1830. 


his old age taking a Jew on to London Bridge, tying a 
stone round his neck and hurling him into the river. 1 

However, though three centuries of humanism had not 
been altogether wasted, the philosopher is in theory as 
hostile to the poor Jew as Luther himself : " The Jews of 
the lower orders," he tells us, "are the very lowest of 
mankind ; they have not a principle of honesty in them ; 
to grasp and be getting money for ever is their single 
and exclusive occupation." Nor was this prejudiced view 
of the race softened in Coleridge by his profound admira- 
tion for its literature, any more than it was in Luther. 
The latter was an enthusiastic admirer of the Psalms — the 
book that has played a larger part in men's lives than any 
other — and so was Coleridge : " Mr. Coleridge, like so 
many of the elder divines of the Christian Church, had an 
affectionate reverence for the moral and evangelical portion 
of the Book of Psalms. He told me that, after having 
studied every page of the Bible with the deepest attention, 
he had found no other part of Scripture come home so 
closely to his inmost yearnings and necessities." 2 But 
Coleridge's affection for ancient Hebrew literature 
deepened, if anything, his contempt for the modern 
Jew. He called Isaiah "his ideal of the Hebrew pro- 
phet," and used this ideal as a means of emphasising his 
scorn for the actual : " The two images farthest removed 
from each other which can be comprehended under one term 
are, I think, Isaiah — ' Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O 
earth ! ' — and Levi of Holywell Street — ' Old clothes ! ' 
— both of them Jews, you'll observe. Immane quantum 
discrepant !" z The philosopher does not deign to reflect 
on the possible causes of this lamentable discrepancy. 

Again, Coleridge, like Luther, delighted in clandestine 
conversion. He was on friendly terms with several 
learned Jews, and, finding them men of a metaphysical 
turn of mind, he liked, as was his wont, to preach to 
them "earnestly and also hopelessly" on Kant's text 
regarding the " object " and " subject," and other things 
weighty, though incomprehensible. At one time he was 

1 Cp. above, p. 225. 
2 Editor's note on May 30, 1830. 3 Aug. 14, 1833. 


engaged in undermining the faith of four different victims 
of his zeal and friendship, or may be of his sense of 
humour : a Jew, a Swedenborgian, a Roman Catholic, 
and a New Jerusalemite. " He said he had made most 
way with the disciple of Swedenborg, who might be con- 
sidered as convert, that he had perplexed the Jew, and had 
put the Roman Catholic into a bad humour ; but that 
upon the New Jerusalemite he had made no more 
impression than if he had been arguing with the man in 
the moon." 1 

Even the genial Elia was not above entertaining and 
elaborating the hoary platitude that Jews and Gentiles 
can never mix. Although he declares that he has, in 
the abstract, no disrespect for Jews, he admits that he 
would not care to be in habits of familiar intercourse 
with any of them. Centuries of injury, contempt and 
hate, on 'the one side — of cloaked revenge, dissimulation 
and hate, on the other, between our and their fathers, 
he thinks, must and ought to affect the blood of the 
children. He cannot believe that a few fine words, such 
as "candour," "liberality," "the light of the nineteenth 
century," can close up the breaches of so deadly a 
disunion. In brief, he frankly confesses that he does 
not relish the approximation of Jew and Christian which 
was becoming fashionable, affirming that "the spirit of 
the Synagogue is essentially separative." 2 

Yet, in defiance of Byronic wrath, of Elian humour, 
and of Coleridgean theology, the demand for justice daily 
gained ground. In 1830 Mr. Robert Grant, member 
of Parliament for Inverness, sounded the trumpet-call to 
battle by proposing that Jews should be admitted to the 
House of Commons. The Bill was carried on the first 
reading by 18 votes, but was lost on the second by 
63. The initial success of the proposal was evidence 
of the progress of public opinion ; its final rejection 
showed that there was room for further progress. 
Indeed, the victory of light over darkness was not to be 
won without a severe conflict : the prejudices of eighteen 

1 Editor's note on April 14, 1830. 

2 Charles Lamb, Essay on Imperfect Sympathies. 


centuries had to be assaulted and taken one after the 
other, ere triumph could be secured. How strong these 
fortifications were can easily be seen by a glance at the 
catalogue of any great public library under the proper 
heading. There the modern Englishman's wondering 
eye finds a formidable array of pamphlets extending over 
many years, and covering the whole field of racial and 
theological intolerance. But the opposite phalanx, though 
as yet inferior in numbers, shows a brave front too. In 
January, 1831, Macaulay fulminated from the pages 
of the Edinburgh Review in support of the good 
cause : 

" The English Jews, we are told, are not Englishmen. 
They are a separate people, living locally in this island, 
but living morally and politically in communion with then- 
brethren who are scattered over all the world. An 
English Jew looks on a Dutch or Portuguese Jew as his 
countryman, and on an English Christian as a stranger. 
This want of patriotic feeling, it is said, renders a Jew 
unfit to exercise political functions." 

This premosaic platitude, and other coeval arguments, 
Macaulay sets himself to demolish ; and, whatever may be 
thought of the intrinsic value of his weapons, the prin- 
ciple for which he battled no longer stands in need of 

The warfare continued with vigour on both sides. The 
Jews, encouraged by Mr. Grant's partial success, went on 
petitioning the House of Commons for political equality, 
and their petitions found a constant champion in Lord 
John Russell, who year after year brought in a Bill on the 
subject. But the forces of the enemy held out gallantly. 
That a Jew should represent a Christian constituency, and, 
who knows ? even control the destinies of the British 
Empire, was still a proposition that shocked a great many 
good souls; while others ridiculed it as preposterous. 
A. W. Kinglake voices the latter class of opponents in his 
Eothen. A Greek in the Levant had expressed to the 
author his wonder that a man of Rothschild's position 
should be denied political recognition. The English 
traveller scowls at the idea, and quotes it simply as an 


illustration of the Greek's monstrous materialism. 
"Rothschild (the late money-monger) had never been 
the Prime Minister of England ! I gravely tried to throw 
some light upon the mysterious causes that had kept the 
worthy Israelite out of the Cabinet." Had Kinglake been 
endowed with the gift of foreseeing coming, as he was 
with the gift of describing current events, he would 
probably never have written the eloquent page on which 
the above passage occurs. But in his own day there was 
nothing absurd in his attitude. Till 1828 no more than 
twelve Jewish brokers were permitted to carry on business 
in the City of London, and vacancies were filled at an 
enormous cost. Even baptized Jews were excluded from 
the freedom of the City, and therefore no Jew could keep 
a shop, or exercise any retail trade, till 1832. 

The struggle for the enfranchisement of the Jews was 
only one operation in a campaign wherein the whole 
English world was concerned, and on the result of which 
depended far larger issues than the fate of the small com- 
munity of English Jews. It was a campaign between the 
powers of the past and the powers of the future. Among 
those engaged in this struggle was a man in whom the two 
ages met. He had inherited the traditions of old England, 
and he was destined to promote the development of the 
new. His life witnessed the death of one world and the 
birth of another. His career is an epitome of English 
history in the nineteenth century. 

In 1833 Gladstone, then aged twenty-four years, voted 
for Irish Coercion, opposed the admission of Dissenters to 
the Universities, and the admission of Jews to Parliament. 
He was consistent. Irish Reform, Repeal of the Test 
Acts, and Relief of the Jews, were three verses of one 
song, the burden of which was " Let each to-morrow find 
us farther than to-day." In 1847 Gladstone, then aged 
thirty-eight years, " astonished his father as well as a great 
host of his political supporters by voting in favour of the 
removal of Jewish disabilities." * His desertion, as was 
natural, aroused a vast amount of indignation in the 
camp. For had he not, only eight short years earlier, 
X J. Morley, Life of W. E. Gladstone, Vol. i. pp. 106, 375. 


been described as cc the rising hope of the stern and 
unbending Tories " ? But the indignation, natural though 
it might be, was unjustifiable. Gladstone was again 
consistent. Several important things had happened since 
his first vote. Both Dissenters and Roman Catholics had 
been rehabilitated. In other words, the Tory party had 
surrendered their first line of defence — Anglicanism, and 
abandoned their second — Protestantism : was there any 
reason, except blind bigotry, for their dogged defence of 
the third ? Gladstone could see none. The admission of 
the Jews was henceforth not only dictated by justice, but 
demanded by sheer logic. Furthermore, the Jews in 1833 
had been permitted to practise at the bar; in 1835 the 
shrievalty had been conceded to them ; in 1845 the offices 
of alderman and of Lord Mayor had been thrown open 
to them ; in 1846 an Act of Parliament had established 
the right of Jewish charities to hold land, and Jewish 
schools and synagogues were placed on the same footing as 
those of Dissenters. The same year witnessed the repeal 
of Queen Anne's statute, which encouraged conversion ; 
of the exception of the Jews from the Irish Naturalisation 
Act of 1783; and of the obsolete statute De Judaismo^ 
which prescribed a special dress for Jews. After the 
bestowal of civil privileges, the withdrawal of political 
rights was absurd. Gladstone could not conceive why 
people should be loth to grant to the Jews nominal, after 
having admitted them to practical equality. But though 
prejudice had died out, its ghost still haunted the English 
mind. Men clung to the shadow, as men will, when the 
substance is gone. Those orators of the press and the 
pulpit whose vocation it is to voice the views of yesterday 
still strove to give articulate utterance and a body to a 
defunct cause. Sophisms, in default of reasons, were year 
after year dealt out for popular consumption, and the 
position was sufficiently irrational to find many defenders. 
But the result henceforth was a foregone conclusion. 
Even stupidity is not impregnable. Prejudice, resting as 
it did upon unreality, could not long hold out against 
the batteries of commonsense. 

Yet ghosts die hard. Baron Lionel de Rothschild, 


though returned five times for the City of London, was 
not allowed to vote. Another Jew, Alderman Salomons, 
elected for Greenwich in 1851, ventured to take his seat, 
to speak, and to vote in the House, though in repeating 
the oath he omitted the words "on the true faith of a 
Christian." The experiment cost him a fine of £500 and 
expulsion from Parliament. Meanwhile, the Bill for the 
admission of the Jews continued to be annually introduced, 
to be regularly passed by the Commons, and as regularly 
rejected by the Lords. The comedy did not come to an 
end till 1858, when an Act was passed allowing Jews to 
omit from the oath the concluding words to which they 
conscientiously objected. Immediately after Baron de 
Rothschild took his seat in the House of Commons, and 
another "red letter day" was added to the Jewish 

The Factories Act of 1870 permits Jews to labour 
on Sundays in certain cases, provided they keep their 
own Sabbath ; and the Universities Tests Act, passed in 
the following year, just after a Jew had become Senior 
Wrangler at Cambridge, enables them to graduate at the 
English seats of learning without any violation to .their 
religious principles. At the present day the House of 
Commons contains a dozen Jewish members, and there 
is scarcely any office or dignity for which an English Jew 
may not compete on equal terms with an English 
Christian. The one remnant of ancient servitude is to be 
found in the Anglo-Jewish prayer for the King, in which 
the Almighty is quaintly besought to put compassion into 
his Majesty's heart and into the hearts of his counsellors 
and nobles, "that they may deal kindly with us and 
with all Israel." 

Tolerance has not failed to produce once more the 
results which history has taught us to expect. As in 
Alexandria under the Ptolemies, in Spain under the 
Saracen Caliphs and the earlier Christian princes, and in 
Italy under the Popes of the Renaissance, the Jews cast off 
their aloofness and participated in the intellectual life of 
the Gentiles, so now they hastened to join in the work 
of civilisation. When the fetters were struck off from the 


limbs of Israel, more than the body of the people was set 
free. The demolition of the walls of the ghettos was 
symbolical of the demolition of those other walls of 
prejudice which had for centuries kept the Jewish colonies 
as so many patches of ancient Asia, incongruously inlaid 
into the mosaic of modern Europe. The middle of the 
eighteenth century, which marks the spring-time of Jewish 
liberty, also marks the spring-time of Jewish liberalism. 
It is the Renaissance of Hebrew history ; a new birth of 
the Hebrew soul. The Jew assumed a new form of 
pride : pride in the real greatness of his past. He 
became once more conscious of the nobler elements 
of his creed and his literature. And with this self- 
consciousness there also came a consciousness of something 
outside and beyond self. Moses Mendelssohn did for 
the Jews of Europe what the Humanists had done for 
the Christians. By introducing it to the language, litera- 
ture, and life of the Gentiles around it he opened for his 
people a new intellectual world, broader and fairer than the 
one in which it had been imprisoned by the persecutions 
of the Dark Ages ; and that, too, at a moment when the 
shadows of death seemed to have irrevocably closed round 
the body and the mind of Israel. This deliverance, 
wondrous and unexpected though it was, produced no thrill 
of religious emotion, it called forth no outpourings of pious 
thankfulness and praise, such as had greeted the return 
from the Babylonian captivity and, again, the Restoration 
of the Law by the Maccabees in the days of old. The 
joy of the nation manifested itself in a different manner, 
profane maybe and distasteful to those who look upon 
nationality as an end in itself and who set the interests of 
sect above the interests of man ; but thoroughly sane. 

Orthodoxy, of course, continued to hug the dead bones 
of the past, to denounce the study of Gentile literature 
and science as a sin, and to repeat the words in which 
men of long ago expressed their feelings in a language no 
longer spoken. This was inevitable. Equally inevitable 
was another phenomenon : a religious revival springing 
up simultaneously with the intellectual awakening. The 
Jewish race includes many types. As in antiquity we 


find Hellenism and Messianism flourishing side by side, 
as the preceding century had witnessed the synchronous 
appearance of a Spinoza and a Sabbatai Zebi, so now, 
while Moses Mendelssohn was writing Platonic dialogues 
in Berlin, another representative Jew, Israel Baalshem, was 
mystifying himself and his brethren with pious hysteria in 
Moldavia. 1 But the more advanced classes declared them- 
selves definitely for sober culture. The concentration 
which was forced upon Judaism as a means of self-defence, 
more especially after the expulsion from Spain and the 
subsequent oppression during the sixteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries, was now to a great extent abandoned, 
and then ensued a period of dissent proportionate to the 
previous compulsory conformity. There was a vast 
difference of opinion as to the length to which reform 
should go. But one result of the movement as a whole 
was a more or less thorough purification of Judaism of the 
stains of slavery. The solemn puerilities of the Talmud 
and the ponderous frivolities of Rabbinic tradition, 
grotesque ritualism, and all the inartistic ineptitudes 
in belief and practice, with which ages of barbarism had 
encrusted Judaism, were relegated to the lumber-room of 
antiquarian curiosities, and all that was fresh and truly 
alive in the Jewish race sought new vehicles for the 
expression of new thoughts : modern emotions were trans- 
lated into modern modes of utterance and action. The 
Messianic dream came to be regarded as a vision of the 
night, destined to vanish in the light of freedom, and its 
place was taken by an ideal of a spiritual and racial 
brotherhood of the Jews, based on their common origin 
and history, but compatible with patriotic attachment to 
the various countries of their adoption. 

Nothing is more characteristic of the general healthiness 
of the emancipation of the Jewish mind than the new type 
of renegade Jew which it brought into being. In the 
Middle Ages the Jew who renounced the faith of his 
fathers often considered it his sacred duty to justify his 
apostasy by persecuting his former brethren. The condi- 
tions which produced that vulgar type of renegade having 

1 See below, pp. 378 fol. 


vanished, there began to appear apostates of another kind 
— men who, though unwilling to devote to a sect what 
was meant for mankind, or, perhaps, unable to sacrifice 
their own individuality to an obsolete allegiance, yet never 
ceased to cherish those whom they deserted. In them the 
connection of sentiment outlasted the links of religion, 
and these men by their defection did more for their 
people than others had done by their loyalty. Heinrich 
Heine, born in 1799, was baptized at the age of twenty- 
five, prompted partly by the desire to gain that fulness of 
freedom which in those days was still denied to the non- 
Christian in Germany, but also by a far deeper motive : 
" I had not been particularly fond of Moses formerly," he 
said in after life, " perhaps because the Hellenic spirit was 
predominant in me, and I could not forgive the legislator 
of the Jews his hatred towards all art." The case of 
Benjamin Disraeli in this country was an analogous, though 
not quite a similar one. Among later examples may 
be mentioned the great Russo-Jewish composer Ruben- 
stein who, though baptized in infancy, never sought to 
conceal his Jewish birth, but always spoke of it with pride 
— and that in a country where it still is better for one 
to be born a dog than a Jew. Many of these ex- Jews 
have attempted, and in part succeeded, in creating among 
the Gentiles a feeling of respect towards the Jewish people 
as a nation of aristocrats. And, indeed, in one sense the 
claim is not wholly baseless. 

Since the abolition of religious obstacles the Jews have 
taken an even more prominent part in the development 
of the European mind under all its aspects. Israel wasted 
no time in turning to excellent account the bitterly earned 
lessons of experience. The persecution of ages had 
weeded the race of weaklings. None survived but the 
fittest. These, strong with the strength of long suffering, 
confident with the confidence which springs from the 
consciousness of trials nobly endured and triumphs won 
against incredible odds, versatile by virtue of their 
struggle for existence amid so many and so varied forms 
of civilisation, and stimulated by the modern enthusiasm 
for progress, were predestined to success. The Western 


Jews, after a training of eighteen hundred years in the 
best of schools — the school of adversity — came forth fully 
equipped with endowments, moral and intellectual, which 
enabled them, as soon as the chance offered, to conquer a 
foremost place among the foremost peoples of the 
world. Science and art, literature, statesmanship, philo- 
sophy, law, medicine, and music, all owe to the Jewish 
intellect a debt impossible to exaggerate. In Germany 
there is hardly a university not boasting a professor 
Hebrew in origin, if not always in religion. Economic 
thought and economic practice owe their most daring 
achievements to Jewish speculation. Socialism — this latest 
effort of political philosophy to reconcile the conflicting 
interests of society and its constituent members — is largely 
the product of the Jewish genius. It would be hard to 
enumerate individuals, for their name is legion. 1 But a 
few will suffice: Lasalle and Karl Marx in economics, 
Lasker in politics, Heine and Auerbach in literature, 
Mendelssohn, Rubenstein and Joachim in music, Jacoby 
in mathematics, Traube in medicine ; in psychology 
Lazarus and Steinthal, in classical scholarship and 
comparative philology Benfey and Barnays are some 
Jewish workers who have made themselves illustrious. 
Not only the purse but the press of Europe is to a great 
extent in Jewish hands. The people who control the 
sinews of war have contributed more than their share to 
the arts and sciences which support and embellish peace. 
And all this in the course of one brief half-century, and 
in the face of the most adverse influences of legislation, 
of religious feeling and of social repugnance. History 
can show no parallel to so glorious a revolution. Mytho- 
logy supplies a picture which aptly symbolises it. Hesiod 
was not a prophet, yet no prophecy has ever received 
a more accurate fulfilment than the poetic conception 
couched in the following lines received in the Hebrew 
Palingenesia : 

" Chaos begat Erebos and black Night ; 
But from Night issued Air and Day." 

1 See The Jewish Encyclopaedia, passim. 


The one great power in Europe which has refused to 
follow the new spirit is Russia. In the middle of the 
sixteenth century Czar Ivan IV., surnamed the Terrible, 
voiced the feelings of his nation towards the Jews in his 
negotiations with Sigismund Augustus, King of Poland. 
The latter monarch had inserted in the treaty of peace a 
clause providing that the Jews of Lithuania should be 
permitted to continue trading freely with the Russian 
Empire. Ivan answered : " We do not want these men 
who have brought us poison for our bodies and souls ; 
they have sold deadly herbs among us, and blasphemed 
our Lord and Saviour." This speech affords a melan- 
choly insight into the intellectual condition of the people 
over whom Ivan held his terrible sway. Nor can one 
wonder. Printing had been popular for upwards of a 
century in the rest of Europe before a press found its 
way into the Muscovite Empire, where it aroused among 
the natives no less astonishment and fear than the first 
sight of a musket did among the inhabitants of Zululand, 
and was promptly consigned to the flames by the priests, 
as a Satanic invention. Things did not improve during 
the succeeding ages. Till the end of the seventeenth 
century Russia remained almost as total a stranger to the 
development of the Western world and to its nations as 
Tibet is at the present day. Venice or Amsterdam 
loomed immeasurably larger in contemporary imagination 
than the vast dominions of the White Czar. British 
traders at rare intervals brought from the port of Arch- 


angel, along with their cargoes of furs, strange tales of the 
snow-clad plains and sunless forests of those remote 
regions, and of their savage inhabitants : of their peculiar 
customs, their poverty, squalor, and superstition. And 
these accounts, corroborated by the even rarer testimony 
of diplomatic envoys, who in their books of travel spoke 
of princes wallowing in filthy magnificence, of starving 
peasants, and of ravening wolves and bears, excited in the 
Western mind that kind of wonder, mingled with incredu- 
lity, which usually attends the narratives of travellers in 
unknown lands. 

This home of primordial barbarism was suddenly thrust 
upon the attention of the civilised world by the genius of 
one man. Peter the Great, a coarse and cruel, but highly 
gifted barbarian, conceived the colossal plan of bridging 
over the gulf that separated his empire from Western 
Europe, and of reaching at a single stride the point of 
culture towards which others had crept slowly and pain- 
fully in the course of many centuries. It was the 
conception of a great engineer, and it required great 
workmen for its execution. It is, therefore, no matter 
for surprise if the work, when the mind and the will of 
the original designer were removed, made indifferent 
progress, if it remained stationary at times, if it was 
partially destroyed at others. It must also be borne in 
mind that Peter's dream of a European Russia was far 
from being shared by the Russian people. The old 
Russian party, which interpreted the feelings of the nation, 
had no sympathy with the Emperor's ambition for a new 
Russia modelled on a Western pattern. They wanted to 
remain Asiatic. And this party found a leader in Peter's 
own son Alexis, who paid for his disloyalty with his life. 
The idea for which Alexis and his friends suffered death 
is still alive. Opposition to Occidental reform and attach- 
ment to Oriental modes of thought and conduct continue 
to exercise a powerful influence in Russian politics. 
Europe and Asia still fight for supremacy in the hetero- 
geneous mass which constitutes this hybrid Empire, and 
there are those who believe that, although Russia poses 
as European in manner, in soul she is an Asiatic power ; 


and that the time will come when the slender ties which 
bind her to the West will be snapped by the greater force 
of her Eastern affinities. Whether this view is correct or 
not the future will show. Our business is with the past. 
The history of the Russian Empire from the seventeenth 
till the twentieth century is largely a history of individual 
emperors, and its spasmodic character of alternate progress 
and retrogression is vividly illustrated by the attitude of 
those emperors towards their Jewish subjects. Peter 
the Great welcomed them, his daughter Elizabeth expelled 
them, Catherine II. re-admitted them, Alexander I. favoured 
them. No democratic visionary was ever animated by a 
loftier enthusiam for the happiness of mankind than this 
noble autocrat. By the Ukase of 1804 all Jews engaged 
in farming, manufactures, and handicrafts, or those who 
had been educated in Russian schools, were relieved from 
the exceptional laws against their race ; while special privi- 
leges were granted to those who could show proficiency in 
the Russian, German, or Polish language. Other decrees, 
issued in 1809, ensured to the Jews full freedom of trade. 
These concessions, while testifying to the Emperor's 
tolerant wisdom, show the severity of the conditions 
under which the race laboured normally. On the par- 
tition of Poland the Russian Empire had received 
an enormous addition to its Jewish population, and 
the Czars, with few exceptions, continued towards it 
the inhuman policy already adopted under Casimir the 
Great's successors. The Jews were pent in ghettos, and 
every care was taken to check their growth and to hamper 
their activity. Among other forms of oppression, the 
emperors of Russia initiated towards their Jewish sub- 
jects a system analogous to the one formerly enforced by 
the Sultans of Turkey on the Christian rayahs : the 
infamous system of " child-tribute." Boys of tender age 
were torn from their parents and reared in their 
master's faith for the defence of their master's dominions. 
Alexander I. determined to lift this heavy yoke, and, as 
has been seen, he took some initial steps towards that 
end. But, unfortunately, the closing years of the high- 
minded idealist's life witnessed a return to despotism, and 


consequently a series of conspiracies, which in their turn 
retarded the progress of freedom and hardened the hearts 
of its foes. 

1825 Alexander's stern son, Nicholas I., was a nineteenth 

century Phalaris. His reign was inaugurated with an 
insurrectionary movement, whose failure accelerated the 
triumph of the Asiatic ideals in Russian policy. Nicholas, 
imbued with a strong antipathy to all that was Occidental, 
and convinced that the greatness of Russia abroad 
depended on tyranny at home, set himself the task of 
undoing the little his predecessors had done in the way 

1830 and of reform. The Poles and the Hungarians experienced 

l8 4 8 his relentless severity in a manner which, while filling 
Europe with horror, inspired little inclination for inter- 
ference. In perfect consonance with the character and 
the principles of Nicholas was his treatment of the Jews, 
who, under him, lost all the poor privileges conferred 
upon them by his father, and were not only condemned 
again to the old sorrows of servitude, but by a special 
ukase, published in the beginning of September, 1828, 
they were for the first time subjected to the military 

Under Alexander II., the Czar Liberator, some of those 
oppressive measures were mitigated, and permission was 
granted for three Jews to settle at each railway station. 
But the improvement, limited as it was, did not last 
long. Like some of his ancestors, Alexander II. vacil- 
lated between the two antagonistic forces which wrestle 
for mastery in Russia : the party of progress and freedom 
and the party of reaction and despotism. Devoid of 
initiative and strength of purpose himself, this amiable 
ruler was led now to right, now to left. The disasters 
of the Crimean War had already shown that absolutism 
had failed in the one thing which justified its existence — 
military efficiency. If Russia could not achieve foreign 
supremacy, she ought at least to secure domestic prosperity. 
The party of progress carried the day, and the Emperor 

1855 Nicholas with it, who, however, did not live to work out 
his repentance, but left the task to his son. As early as 
1856 Alexander II. had a plan of a Constitution drawn 


up ; but the design was postponed owing to more 
pressing needs. The years 1 8 6 i-i 8 64, however, witnessed 
the emancipation of the serfs, the abolition of the terrible 
corporal punishment by the knout, the institution of the 
zemstvos, or provincial assemblies, and other measures of 
reform which awakened the hopes and the enthusiasm of 
the Russian people. Svobodnaya Rossia — Free Russia — 
was on every man's lips. A new era had dawned for the 
cowering masses of the Empire. The Polish rebellion 1863 
diverted this enthusiasm from internal reform to the 
defence of the Fatherland against its hereditary enemy, 
who, it was suspected, was aided by some foreign 

Military success abroad presupposes union at home, 
and union often means the sacrifice of the individual 
and his interests and rights. This common historical 
phenomenon now received a fresh illustration. Victory 
took away all the blessings conferred by defeat. The 
Poles were crushed, and with them the budding liberty 
of the Russians. The people and the press, in calling 
for the utter annihilation of the supposed enemy of their 
country, were unwittingly advocating their own doom — 
in extinguishing Poland, they extinguished the last hope 
of their country's happiness. For the defeat of the 
Poles decided the struggle in favour of despotism, all 
schemes of constitutional reform were abandoned, and 
Alexander II. 's reign closed as Alexander I.'s had done: 
in a craven recantation of the principles which had dis- 
tinguished its beginning. This backsliding created bitter 
disappointment in the hearts of all Russian friends of 
liberty, and drove the more desperate among them to the 
declaration of a war which culminated in the unfortunate 1881 
monarch's murder. The crime of the Nihilists, however, March 13 
defeated its own object and ruined the cause it was 
meant to serve. At the very moment of his death the 
Czar was actually meditating a plan for some form of 
representative government, to begin with the convocation 
of an Assembly of Notables. The intention died with 
him. Henceforth the relations between the Government 
and the governed are more than ever marked by mutual 


distrust. 1 The assassination of the humane Emperor, far 
from weakening, strengthened the hands of the champions 
of autocracy and intolerance, and these champions were 
reinforced by the advocates of Nationalism or Panslavism 
— a movement which, like Nihilism, derives its theories 
from modern Teutonic speculation, but applies them 
after a primitive fashion purely Russian. 

Russian national consciousness is a recent growth. It 
sprang up at the beginning of the nineteenth century 
under the stimulus of Napoleon's invasion. Hatred of 
the foreign invader brought patriotism into being, and the 
exultation of victory forced it to precocious maturity. 
The Polish rebellions of 1830 and 1863 assisted its 
development, which was also accelerated by the spread 
of education and the growth of the press. The extreme 
partisans of the Nationalist idea, henceforth the ruling 
body in the Empire, were imbued with the conviction 
that the preservation of the Russian nation required the 
forcible assimilation or, failing that, the utter extermina- 
tion of all that is not Russian. Under the fell influence 
of that conviction a systematic campaign was entered upon 
for the Russification of all the alien races which had been 
incorporated in the Empire during the preceding century. 
After the complete subjugation of the Poles — brought 
about by Muravieff in a manner which earned him the 
title of " Hangman of Warsaw " — came the turn of the 
inhabitants of the Baltic provinces, who, partly German by 
blood, had long adopted the German tongue, German 
culture, and German ideals, and who since their conquest 
by the Russians, in the eighteenth century, had furnished 
the Empire with some of its best statesmen, warriors, and 
scientists. The Panslavic zeal for assimilation was inten- 
sified by the fear of German expansion. Prussia by her 
brilliant war against Austria in 1866 laid the foundations 
of that national edifice which was completed by the war, 
even more brilliant, against France in 187c, thus realising 
the national dream of German unity. It was feared by 

1 This phase of the internal history of Russia since 1 88 1 is well sum- 
marised in an article on "The Constitutional Agitation in Russia," by 
Prince Kropotkin, The Nineteenth Century, January, 1905. 


the Russians that the absorption of the Germanised 
provinces of the Baltic would be the next step of Pan- 
germanic ambition. Impelled by those motives, Russia 
inaugurated the amalgamation of these regions in 1867. 
Alexander II., notwithstanding his personal sympathies 
and his public assurances to the natives of the Baltic 
provinces, was carried away by the Panslavic current, 
which gained further strength from the national conflict 
with Turkey in 1877. 

Under Alexander III. the period of partial reform, 1881-1894 
thanks to the industry of MM. Pobiedonostseff, Katkoff, 
and Count IgnatiefF, and the indecision of their Liberal 
opponents, gave way to one of reaction in all directions. 
In administrative matters Alexander III., despite the 
advice of so firm a believer in the divine origin of king- 
ship as the German Emperor William I., reverted to the 
methods of his own grandfather, Nicholas I. : the press 
censorship was revived, the village communes were 
placed under the absolute power of the police, flogging 
was restored as an instrument of " educating " the 
peasants ; and the very mention of the Czar Liberator's 
name became a punishable offence. At the same time 
the work of Russifi cation proceeded, and side by side 
with the policy of racial uniformity was carried on a 
crusade for religious conformity. Panslavism rooted out 
the national institutions and language of the Baltic pro- 1 888-1 890 
vinces ; Panorthodoxy stamped out their heretical and 
schismatic doctrines. The Holy Synod in 1893, inspired 
by the Imperial Procurator, M. Pobiedonostseff — who, 
though a layman, wielded an absolute control over the 
Russian Church and was by his opponents nicknamed 
" Lay Pope " — demanded the suppression of Protestants, 
Roman Catholics, Mohammedans, Buddhists, and other 
dissenters throughout the Empire. The thirteen years 
of Alexander III.'s reign form one of the gloomiest 
pages in a history not remarkable for brightness. 

Comparative tolerance followed upon the Czar's death, 189+ 
and high hopes were built on the reputed liberality of 
his successor, Nicholas II. But these hopes have never 
been fulfilled. On the contrary, obscurantism continued 


to reign supreme, and of late years the Panslavist and 
Panorthodox programme has been vigorously pursued in 
the Caucasus, in Poland, and in Finland, as well as among 
the Buddhists of the trans-Baikalian district. In all these 
provinces national institutions have been attacked with a 
remorseless fury and a brutal thoroughness worthy of the 
Inquisition in its worst days. The Armenian Church 
was plundered, 1 and Russian bishops were inflicted upon a 
population whose language they did not understand. The 
Tartars, once loyal and contented, were roused to appeal 
to the Sultan of Turkey and the Western Powers for 
relief from the tyranny of the Czar. In their petition 
these Russian Mohammedans describe how their religious 
tribunals have been suppressed, how their children are 
forced into Russian schools, how when serving in the 
army they are made to eat food condemned by the law 
of Islam, and how they are compelled to observe Christian 
festivals and to abandon their faith. 2 But in no part of 
the Empire was more systematically repeated the process 
which, under Alexander III., had achieved the Russification 
of the Baltic provinces than in Finland. Nothing more 
inhuman or more insane than Russia's treatment of that 
country has been known in Europe since the revocation 
of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV. The constitution 
of Finland, which Alexander I. on annexing the country 
in 1809 had solemnly pledged himself to respect, was 
abolished ; its press was silenced ; its University degraded; 
its religion, trampled under foot ; its best men were 
1 899-1903 banished; and all means were employed in the patriotic 
endeavour to grind down this highly cultured, but non- 
Slavonic and non-Orthodox, province of the north to the 
level of the rest of the Empire ; with the result that the 
most loyal and prosperous section of the Czar's subjects 
has been turned into the most disloyal and miserable. 
Thus Germans, Esthonians, Poles, Finns, Circassians, 

1 See Memorandum of the Armenian Patriarchate, protesting against 
the edict of spoliation, issued on June 12-25, 1903, in Armenia, 
October and November, 1906. 

2 See A. Vambery, "The Awakening of the Tartars," The Nineteenth 
Century, February, 1905. 


Georgians, Armenians, Mongols, Tartars — all have experi- 
enced the Russian rage for uniformity national and 
religious ; and so have even dissenters of Russian blood, 
like the Old Believers and the Dukhobors, not to mention 
the Polish and Lithuanian Uniates, whose churches have 
been confiscated and converted to other uses, whose clergy 
has been suppressed, and who are forced, under severe 
penalties, to worship, to be married and buried, and to 
have their children christened according to the rites of 
the Orthodox Church. 1 

Tyranny is a plant that can only flourish in darkness. 
The press is, therefore, gagged, public meetings are 
severely prohibited, and both Church and State assidu- 
ously discourage the education of the masses. Elementary 
schools are insufficient and inefficient, while private 
initiative is jealously forbidden to supplement the short- 
comings of public instruction. The Government does 
not provide for the people, and will not allow it to 
provide for itself. The authorities at Moscow have been 
known to prohibit even factory owners from keeping 
elementary schools for the improvement of their working 
people. When such is the state of things in the greatest 
industrial centre of the Empire, it is not hard to imagine 
the conditions which prevail in the remote country 
districts with their dull agricultural population. 2 Hence 
the necessity for employing foreigners in every depart- 
ment of commercial and industrial life. The success 
of the foreigner, however, arouses the jealousy of the 
native, and Russian economists are apt to attribute to 
the predominance of the former that wretchedness of the 
Russian masses, which is mainly due to their defective 
education. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising 
to find that the Jews suffer as grievously as they did in the 
Middle Ages. The hostility of a people still barbarous in 
all essentials has always succeeded in defeating the good 
intentions of the best Czars, and in heightening the 
horrors consequent on the despotic temper of the worst. 

x The Times, October 8, 1904. 

2 According to the census returns of 1897, the number of illiterate 
inhabitants in the country varies from 44.9 to 89.2 per cent. 


If the treatment of Israel in various countries may be 
taken as an index to their respective progress on the road 
to civilisation, Russia must be pronounced as standing at 
this hour where England stood in the thirteenth century. 
In 1 88 1 a violent outbreak of anti-Jewish feeling, 
encouraged by the Nationalist newspapers, on one hand, 
and by the Nihilists on the other, led to much bloodshed 
and to the destruction of Jewish property and life in 
the southern and western provinces of Russia, especially 
in Russian Poland. Many causes contributed to the 
explosion. For years past, indeed since the abolition of 
serfdom, the peasantry, especially in South Russia, had 
been deteriorating both materially and morally. A con- 
temporary observer thus describes the state of things on 
the eve of the event : " The bad harvests in the succession 
of years immediately preceding 1 8 8 1 , and the accompany- 
ing ravages of a virulent and widespread cattle plague, 
have completed the misery which idleness and impro- 
vidence were steadily producing; and the removal of 
restraint, the separation of families, and the assemblage 
of large numbers of the most ignorant classes amid the 
strange scenes of town and camp life, have unsettled their 
minds and degraded their morals." After relating the 
effect of these conditions on the relations between peasant 
and landlord, the writer proceeds to explain some of the 
causes of the peasant's ill-feeling towards the Jew. 
" Besides the landlord, there is another class in the south 
and west by whom the peasant thinks that he has been 
defrauded. The Jews, whom Government restrictions 
prevent from becoming agriculturists, and who are de- 
barred from accepting employment in any ordinary 
industrial establishment, by the fact of their Sabbath 
limiting them to four and a half days of labour during 
the Christian week, have from necessity turned their 
attention almost exclusively to trade. The improvidence 
of the agriculturist and his want of capital have rendered 
the assistance of a money-lender and middleman an 
absolute necessity to him, and this requirement has been 
naturally supplied by the presence of the Jew, whose 
sobriety, thrift, energy, and commercial instincts render 


him especially fit for the vocation. The more im- 
provident the peasantry, the greater are the immediate 
profits of the Jews, and whilst the former have become 
steadily impoverished, many of the latter have acquired 
comparative wealth. There is nothing astonishing, there- 
fore, in the ill-feeling which has arisen towards the Jews, 
and that ill-feeling has been accompanied by the persuasion 
that there must be a special injustice in the superior 
material prosperity of a race whom the Government, by 
penal legislation, had emphatically marked out as inferior 
to the Christians. Religious fanaticism is almost unknown 
in Russia, and indifferentism is rather the rule among a 
peasantry which lives in amity with Mahommedans, 
Roman Catholics, and Lutherans alike; but it requires 
a strong hand to restrain a semi-civilized and poverty- 
stricken people from attacking and plundering their richer 
and defenceless neighbours. The Government did not 
show this strong hand in defence of the Jews, and political 
agitators eagerly fanned the flame of animosity against the 
alien race, and saw with pleasure the spread of disturbances 
which would either lead to a collision between the people 
and the authorities, or open the eyes of the masses to the 
weakness of the latter, and to their own strength." 1 

The venerable charge of ritual murder was once more 
brought against the Jews, and within a few weeks all the 
provinces from the Baltic to the Black Sea were a theatre 
of arson, rapine, and slaughter, such as Europe had not 
witnessed since the tragedy of the Black Death in the 
fourteenth century. The civilised world shuddered at the 
appalling spectacle; but the local authorities, both civil 
and military, looked, for the most part, complacently on. 
The peasantry, having slaked their thirst for vengeance, 
plunder, rape, and gin, by sacking the Jewish houses, 
drinking shops, and brothels, proceeded to embody their 
grievances against the Jew in the following series of 
demands : 

i. "That Jews, members of town councils and pro- 
vincial assemblies, vice-directors of town banks, members 

1 E. F. G. Law, " The Present Condition of Russia," The Fortnightly 
Review, April, 1882. 


of different institutions and committees, should voluntarily 
give up their present posts, casting off the cloak of pride 
and braggadocio ; as persons not possessing civic honesty, 
they are unfit to hold such places. 

2. "That the Jews should impress on their wives and 
daughters not to deck themselves out in silk, velvet, gold, 
etc., as such attire is neither in keeping with their educa- 
tion nor the position they hold in society. 

3. "That the Jews should dismiss from their service 
all Russian female servants, who, after living in Jewish 
houses, certainly become prostitutes, forget their religion, 
and who are intentionally depraved by the Jews. 

4. "To banish, without delay, all Jews belonging to 
other places who do not possess any real property in town. 

5. "To close all drinking shops. 

6. " To forbid Jews to abuse the Christians, and, in 
general, to scoff at them. 

7. " To prohibit Jews from buying up in the markets 
the first necessaries of life with the intention of selling 
them to the Russians. 

8. "To impress on wholesale dealers in spirits not to 
mix with vodka any foreign element which is sometimes 
injurious to health. 

9. " Not to trade on the Sabbath before noon, and at 
Christmas and Easter not to trade for three days, and not 
to work on our holidays. 

10. " To prohibit Jews buying wheat for trading 
purposes within thirty versts of the town of Pereyaslav, 
and therefore to remove all existing grain and flour stores. 

11. "To prohibit Jews from buying up uncut wheat ; 
also to lease land from private individuals. 

12. "The Town Council is begged not to let, and the 
Jews not to hire, the grounds at fairs and at market- 
places, with the object of farming them out." x 

No better proof of the mediaeval character of the 
Russian peasant's mind could be desired than that fur- 
nished by the above document. Even so hearty an 
apologist of that peasant as Mr. Goldwin Smith finds him- 

1 Vice-Consul WagstafPs report, in Goldwin Smith's " The Jews," The 
Nineteenth Century, Nov. 1882. 


self compelled to remark that these demands " by their 
grotesque mixture of real and fancied grievances, remind 
us of the demands made by the ignorant, but suffering, 
peasants of the Middle Ages." Their demand that the 
Jews should be forced " to cast off the cloak of pride and 
braggadocio," has its exact parallel in the complaints of 
the Spanish bigots laid before Don Henry in 1371. 1 

But the feeling which found so terrible an expression 
was by no means confined to the lower and illiterate 
classes of the community. The crime itself was attributed 
to the deliberate policy of Count IgnatiefF. A high-bred 
and accomplished Russian lady, a few months after the 
massacres, described the general attitude of her com- 
patriots towards the Jews in very fluent English, as 
follows : — " Well, we do not like the Jews, that is a fact ; 
and the dislike is reciprocal. But the reason we do not 
like them is not because of their speculative monotheism, 
but because of their practical heathenism. To us they 
are what the relics of the Amorites and Canaanites were 
to the Hebrews in old times — a debased and demoralized 
element which is alien to our national life, and a source 
of indescribable evils to our people. It is not to the Jew 
as a rejecter of Christianity that we object; it is to the 
Jew as a bitter enemy of Christian emancipation, the 
vampire of our rural communes, the tempter of our 
youth, and the centre of the demoralizing, corrupting 
agencies which impair our civilization." 2 

The modern Russian lady's denunciation of the Jew, 
in tone as well as in substance, is a significant, though, of 
course, quite unconscious, echo of Ivan the Terrible's 
cruder statement of more than three centuries ago. 3 The 
sole difference consists in form — the religious objection is 
minimised and the social emphasised in accordance with 
Western modes of expression ; but fundamentally the two 
utterances are identical. 

1 See above, p. 148. Cp. p. 167. 

2 Olga Novikoff, " The Temperance Movement in Russia," The Nine- 
teenth Century, Sept. 1882. Cp. M. O. Menchikoff, "The Jewish Peril 
in Russia," The Monthly Review, Feb. 1904. 

3 See above, p. 329. 


The Minister of the Interior, in less emotional 
language, explained the outbreak as due to causes of a 
purely economic character. " During the last twenty 
years," he said, " the Jews have not only gradually got 
into their hands the trade and industry, but have 
also acquired by deed of purchase and leases considerable 
landed estates, and, owing to their numbers and solidarity, 
they have, with few exceptions, directed all their efforts, 
not towards increasing the productiveness of the country, 
but to the spoliation of the native population, chiefly the 
poorer classes, by which means they called forth a protest 
from the latter, which unfortunately expressed itself in a 
violent form." x 

Vice-Consul WagstafF in an official despatch, while 
giving the Jews full credit for their remarkable intelli- 
gence, thrift, and business qualities, enumerates the com- 
plaints made against them by the Russians — namely, that 
" the Jews are the principal keepers of drinking shops 
and houses of ill-fame, receivers of stolen goods, illegal 
pawnbrokers and usurers. As Government contractors 
they frequently collude with unscrupulous officials in 
defrauding the State to vast amounts. They use their 
religion for business purposes, l boycott ' outsiders, play 
into each other's hands at land sales, and thus despoil the 
peasantry. Often the harvest of a peasant who has been 
entangled in their toils passes into their grasp, as it stands 
in the field, on their own terms. They themselves do 
not raise agricultural products, but they reap the benefit 
of others' labour, and steadily become rich while pro- 
prietors are gradually getting ruined. In their relation to 
Russia they are compared to parasites that have settled on 
a plant not vigorous enough to throw them off, and 
which is being gradually sapped of its vitality." 2 

Another witness describes the gradual subjection of the 
impoverished peasant to the Jewish money-lender and 
adds, " The Jews' two great factors in dealing with the 
Russian peasant are vodka (native gin) and a few roubles 
at a pinch, and with these powers he enslaves and uses 
him for his own ends. Many large properties, belonging 

1 Goldwin Smith, ubi supra. 2 Ibid. 


to influential and hereditary Russian noblemen, are 
rented out to Jews, because the proprietors find that they 
pay higher rents than the Russian tenants." He con- 
cludes, however, with the reflection : " The real source of 
the evil lies in the mental and moral condition of the 
masses, and it is there the remedy must be applied." 1 

These are the reasons alleged for the persecution of the 
Russian Jews. First as to " productiveness," the neglect 
of which is brought forward as a criminal charge against 
the Jew. It is an old complaint. The Andalusian monk 
of yore inveighed against the Jews of Spain because "they 
preferred to gain their livelihood by traffic rather than by 
manual labour or mechanical arts." 2 Modern economic 
science teaches us that a country can dispense as little with 
the distributors as with the producers of wealth. Pro- 
ductiveness, however, is well known to be the pet idea of 
Russian economists. The last two Ministers of Finance 
have for close on a quarter of a century been fostering 
production with a reckless energy which by many un- 
biassed students is regarded as fatal. Everything is done 
to encourage production and exportation, with the result 
that the soil gets exhausted, and the reserves of corn, on 
which the Russian farmer once relied in time of famine, 
have disappeared from the country. 3 Like all measures 
carried to excess and without due regard to local con- 
ditions, the fever of productiveness is not an unmixed 
blessing, and the neglect of it will not be laid, by the 
impartial outsider, as a crime at the door of the Jew, 
especially when he remembers that the Jew is not a free 
agent in the choice of his profession. For, even if the 
law permitted and the Jew wished to devote himself to 
agriculture, he would be prevented from doing so by the 
Russian system of village communes — an intrusion into 
which on the part of non-Christians would be resented 
by none more bitterly than by the Russian peasant him- 
self. It is thus seen that the Jew could not in any case 

1 Goldwin Smith, ubi supra. 2 See above, p. 154. 

3 For a full account of this and other aspects of Russian domestic 
policy, the reader is referred to Herr Wolf von Schierbrand's Russia : 
Her Strength and her Weakness, 1904. 


become a " producer," but was irresistibly compelled to 
turn to handicrafts, retail commerce and money-lending. 

As to Jewish extortion. The manumission of the serfs 
opened up fields for money-lending which it would have 
been impossible to resist the temptation of exploiting even 
to capitalists whose opportunities for investment are less 
circumscribed than are those of the Russian Jew. That 
reform, though undoubtedly beneficial in the long run, 
was meanwhile bound to upset the social fabric, especially 
in Little Russia, and to produce the evils which generally 
accompany a radical change brought about in a country 
unprepared for it. By the Ukase of 1864 there was 
created a state of transition. The old was pronounced out 
of date ; the new was not yet born. While ruining many 
noble landlords, the abolition of serfdom brought into 
being a vast proletariat of freedmen poor in manual skill 
and capital, and poorer still in resource. Both these 
classes, bewildered by the unaccustomed conditions rudely 
thrust upon them, rushed to the Jew for loans as 
naturally as the moth rushes to the candle, and, like the 
moth, they suffered in the act. The Jew had no cause to 
treat either borrower with lenience; but, as might have 
been expected, the peasant was by far the greater sufferer 
of the two. He was less prepared for the struggle. For 
centuries he had lived under a restraint which, while 
stunting his manhood, conferred upon him some of the 
privileges, as well as more than all the punishments, of 
childhood. If the leading strings deprived the peasant of 
the freedom to act, they also deprived him of the freedom 
to ruin himself. These strings were suddenly removed. 
The peasant, still an infant in mind, was invested with all 
the responsibilities of an adult. The very qualities which 
had enabled him to bear his servitude now proved his 
unfitness for liberty. His utter lack of initiative, of enter- 
prise, of self-reliance, and of self-restraint, and his abject 
submissiveness to the decrees of fate — all characteristic of 
the serf — are well summarised in the one word nitchevo, 
the commonest and most comprehensive expression in the 
mujik's vocabulary. It means " no matter," and corre- 
sponds exactly to the malesh of the Egyptian fellah — 


another peasantry sunk in ignorance and fatalistic resigna- 
tion, as the results of centuries of serfdom. 

In addition to these defects the Russian peasant is a 
constitutional procrastinator. He never does to-day what 
he thinks he can by hook or by crook put off till to- 
morrow. Two of the most precious boons of his newly- 
acquired liberty, in his eyes, were the license it allowed 
him to postpone his work as long as he liked and to 
drink as much as he liked. Under the old system " the 
proprietor thrashed his serfs if they were drunk too often, 
and he kept their pockets so empty, and the price of the 
vodki, of which he was the monopolist, so high, that they 
had comparatively little opportunity of gratifying their 
passion for liquor. This was very well while it lasted, 
but now that the control is withdrawn the reaction is all 
the greater." 1 This is an ample answer to the charge 
brought against the Jew as the promoter of intemperance. 

As to the charge of collusion with Government officials, 
it can easily be met. Both culprits, of course, deserve 
punishment. But it is scarcely fair that the one should 
be only fined, dismissed, or imprisoned, and the other 
slaughtered or starved with the rest of his nation. With 
regard to " boycotting " outsiders and playing into each 
other's hands, is it not natural that people belonging to 
a sect which their neighbours scorn should assist their 
fellow-sufferers in preference to their persecutors ? There 
is no stronger bond between man and man than the bond 
of a common stigma. 

The charges of immoral pursuits and habits of depravity 
may, or may not, be exaggerated- But, even admitting 
that the Jew is all that his Russian enemy considers him 
to be, a sufficient answer to the invectives of the latter is 
supplied by the old saying : " Every country has the Jews 
it deserves." Without having recourse to the obvious 
retort — which in the case of the Russian peasant would 
be particularly apposite — that, if there was no demand 
for the facilities for immorality supplied by the Jew, the 
Jew would not think it worth his while to supply them, 
we may urge the self-evident truth, that legal disabilities, 
1 E. F. G. Law, ubi supra. 


by barring the way to an honest and honourable career, 
drive their victims to the exercise of the lowest and 
meanest of callings. The struggle for existence under 
such banausic conditions degenerates into a savage war- 
fare in which there is no room for scruple or shame. 
The outcast has no reputation to lose. And, the more 
unprincipled the contest becomes, the greater grows the 
necessity for oppression, in countries where statesmanship 
has not yet discovered less rude remedies. It is a vicious 
circle from which there appears to be no escape. 

Accordingly, the undisciplined fury of the populace in 
1 88 1 was supplemented by a systematic and carefully 
reasoned-out persecution on the part of the Government. 
Instead of endeavouring to raise the Russian masses to a 
level of mental and moral strength sufficiently high to 
enable them to compete with the Jew, the Czar's 
ministers devoted their ingenuity to the invention of new 
means for lowering the Jew to the level of the Russian 
masses. The disabilities of the hated race were increased. 
Jewish property in the open country was confiscated, and 
the owners were driven into ghettos. It was enacted 
that henceforth no Jew should be allowed to live in a 
village or to acquire property therein. The whole of 
the Russian Empire was, with reference to the Jews, 
divided into three distinct sections. The bulk of the 
race were confined to the fifteen provinces known as 
the "Pale of Jewish Settlement." Those Jews who 
belonged to a merchants' guild of the first class for ten 
years, University graduates, and skilled artisans were 
permitted to move freely and to settle in any part of 
European Russia they chose, except the departments 
of Moscow and Taurien, in which no Jewish workman 
was allowed to reside. The third section comprised 
Siberia, and that was closed to all Jews, except convicts. 
The result of these enactments was that the few towns 
within the " pale " were overcrowded with Jewish 
residents, herded together and forced to carry on a 
fierce competition for existence with each other. At 
the same time, laws were passed rendering the admittance 
of Jewish youths to the high schools and Universities 


prohibitive, and the Jews were forbidden to act as State 
or municipal officers, or teachers, or to practise at the bar 
without a special license from the Minister of Justice. 
These and many other measures of restriction were 
adopted with the ostensible object of saving the Russian 
peasant from the clutches of the Jewish harpy. The 
joint effect of persecution and legislation on the Jews 
was misery. But these crimes proved the reverse of 
beneficial to the very peasants on whose behalf they 
were avowedly committed. In every village and town- 
ship the departure of the Jewish traders and artisans 
was immediately marked by a rise in the prices of com- 
modities, and was soon followed by commercial and 
industrial stagnation. 

That regard for the moral and material welfare of the 
people, however, was not the sole, or the principal, motive 
of the Russian Government's policy is unwittingly con- 
fessed by the fair patriot already quoted. Referring to 
the prohibition of the Jews from keeping public houses, 
she says: "That our objection is solely to the anti- 
national Jews, not the Jews who become Russians in all 
but their origin, is proved by the decision of the Com- 
mission in favour of allowing the Karaite Jews to sell 
drink as freely as any other of their Russian fellow- 
subjects. It is only the Talmudist Jews who are 
forbidden that privilege." 1 It is hard for the ordinary 
man to see how belief in the Bible justifies a pursuit 
which is otherwise condemned as injurious to body and 
soul, or in what mysterious way the Talmud affects the 
quality of liquor. The ordinary man will find it easier 
to draw from these facts the inference that the Govern- 
ment's real end was the suppression of the Jew, the 
suppression of the drink-selling Jew being only a means 
to that end. 

In the attitude of the Russian people towards the Jews 
at the present moment we recognise all the features made 
familiar by the history of the Jewish nation in the past. 
Social nonconformity and aloofness led to anti-Judaism in 
antiquity. To this motive of persecution the advent of 

1 Olga Novikoff, ubi supra. 


Christianity added religious rancour, and the Middle Ages 
economic rivalry. The nineteenth century was destined 
to strengthen the texture of hatred by the addition of a 
new strand — Nationalism. All these causes, as we have 
seen, combined to make the Jew an object of detestation 
variously disguised. In ancient Rome we found impatience 
of dissent justifying itself by the pretext of regard for 
public morality; in Catholic and Protestant Europe cruelty 
and cupidity hallowed by the cloak of religious zeal ; in 
modern Europe we see narrow-minded intolerance and 
jealousy trying to ennoble themselves by the title of 
patriotism. Each age has inherited the passions of the 
past and has increased the sad inheritance by the addition 
of new prejudices. In Russia modern culture spreads a 
little way over the face of mediaevalism, as the waters of a 
river at its mouth spread over the surface of the ocean, 
modifying its colour without affecting its depths. Conse- 
quently the Jew is still persecuted for his heresy, as well 
as for his usury, exclusiveness, and foreign extraction. 

Russian officials and English apologists of Russian anti- 
Semitism will not admit that the persecution of the 
Russian Jews is religious, though acknowledging that 
religion, too, plays its part. They claim that it is 
essentially economical and social, "and that the main 
cause has always been the unhappy relation of a wandering 
and parasitic race, retaining its tribal exclusiveness, to the 
races among which it sojourns, and on the produce of 
which it feeds." 1 This view is natural in a modern 
spectator of the West; but it is not quite correct, as it 
implies modern and Western conditions and sentiments in 
a country which only in a small measure is modern and 
Western. The late Mr. Lecky wrote: "The Russian 
persecution stands in some degree apart from other forms 
of the anti-Semitic movement on account of its unparalleled 
magnitude and ferocity." It also stands apart, to the 
same degree, on account of its origin. Jew-hatred in 
Russia is a thoroughly genuine survival. In Western 

1 Goldwin Smith, "The Jews," The Nineteenth Century > Nov. 1882. 
Cp. Pierre Botkine, Secretary of the Russian Legation in Washington, 
"A Voice for Russia," The Century Magazine, Feb. 1893. 


Europe it is largely an artificial revival. The Russian 
Jews have never been emancipated from servitude, because 
the Russian Christians, with few exceptions, have never 
been emancipated from ignorance and bigotry. In other 
words, the modern term anti-Semitism, with all its quasi- 
scientific connotation, can hardly be applied to the Russian 
variety of the epidemic. But, be the causes what they 
may, the result is the same. To the slaughtered Jew, it is 
a matter of comparative indifference whether he is slain as 
a parasite or for the love of Christ. The student also 
must be very extraordinarily constituted who can derive 
any consolation from the fact that the principles of 
toleration made dear to us by the experience and the 
sacrifices of two thousand years, are violated in so 
outrageous a manner not from religious, but from 
" economical and social " motives. 

But, though the source of Russian antipathy to the Jew 
may be a matter of dispute, there is no question as to the 
sincerity and the depth of the feeling. An authority on 
the Jewish Question, writing in 1882, expressed the opinion 
that the disasters of that and the previous year were 
inevitable, and that, " unless the Jews are removed from 
the countries in which they have taken place, we may 
certainly anticipate their recurrence upon a much larger 
scale." 1 This anticipation was justified by subsequent 
events. In 1891 and 1892 new anti-Jewish riots, 
encouraged by the authorities, were followed by fresh 
restrictive enactments. 

Many Jews who had contrived to settle in towns 
outside the " pale " were driven back into it, and others 
within the " pale " were forced to quit the villages and 
townships in which they had dwelt for years and, leaving 
their property and business connections, to take up their 
abode in the over-crowded larger towns. The persecu- 
tion reached its climax in the winter of 1891-92, when 
thousands of men, women and little children were 
heartlessly expelled from Moscow, at a time of the 
year when even soldiers are not suffered to drill in the 

1 Laurence Oliphant, " The Jew and the Eastern Question," The 
Nineteenth Century, Aug. 1882. 


open air on account of the cold. These and other 
measures of unbearable harshness drove, as it was 
intended that they should, about a quarter of a million 
of Jews out of the Empire ; and then the nations of 
the West, alarmed by the influx of the destitute refugees, 
raised a bitter outcry against the barbarity of the Czar. 

The Czar, however, in the words of one of his own 
servants and apologists, "remained deaf to protests of 
the Lord Mayor of London, for example," and declared 
that "he will leave unheeded any and all such foreign 
remonstrances demanding a change in methods which 
have been deliberately adopted." In fact, all the 
measures of repression and restriction which ignorant 
foreigners misrepresented as " the barbarous expulsion 
of the Jews from Russia " had for their virtuous object 
to prevent collision between the Jews and the peasants, 
to relieve the latter from what they could not be per- 
suaded was not a Jewish tyranny, and, in one word, 
to secure good order and to maintain stability in the 
community. 1 It is interesting to hear the Russian version 
of the matter. Unfortunately a euphemism does not 
constitute a refutation. 

In 1896 the Jewish Question was re-opened, and the 
Jews, as well as other sufferers, ventured to hope for an 
improvement of their lot from Nicholas II.'s reputed zeal 
for reform. Much also was expected from " the generous 
and sympathetic instincts of the young Empress." But 
these expectations were not realised, and at the present 
hour the country in which the race is most numerous 2 is 
also the country in which it suffers most grievously. 
The treatment of the Jews in Russia can be summed up 
in one sentence : deliberate starvation of body and soul. 

1 Pierre Botkine, Secretary of the Russian Legation in Washington, 
"A Voice for Russia," in The Century Magazine, Feb. 1893. Cp. "A 
reply " to it by Joseph Jacobs, Secretary of the Russo- Jewish Committee, 
London, in the same periodical, July, 1893. 

2 In 1902-3 the Russian Empire, according to the Statistical Table in 
the Jewish Tear Book, contained 5,189,401 Jews, representing 04.13 of 
the total population (125,668,000). There are serious reasons, how- 
ever, to believe that their real number is considerably in excess of this 


The Jew, as has been seen, is loathed not only as a 
non-Slav and non-Orthodox, but also as a parasite who 
exhausts the organism on which he lives. Isolation, it is 
held, by forcing him to feed upon himself, will kill him. 
The Jews are, therefore, only allowed to reside in certain 
specified quarters of certain towns in certain districts, 
and are forbidden to move from place to place without 
special permission or such a special form of passport 
as is granted to prostitutes. Overcrowding produces 
poverty, disease, and all the filthy degradation of ghetto 
life. A faint conception of what such life means may 
be formed from a recent petition to the Russian Com- 
mittee of Ministers signed by many thousands of Russian 
Jews : " Not less than 20 per cent, of the entire 
population of the Jewish Pale of Settlement," say the 
petitioners, " are reduced to such a condition of wretched- 
ness that they have to be supported from charitable 
sources. In great Jewish communities like those of 
Vilna, BerditchefF, and Odessa, the number of the Jewish 
poor amounts to as much as 25 to 23 P er cent. Co- 
extensive with this widespread poverty there is in all 
the Jewish communities an enormous labouring and 
artisan proletariat that knows not to-day wherewith it 
may exist on the morrow. The simple weapon which 
the labourer and artisan possesses in his relations with his 
employer — the power of leaving his work and seeking 
better conditions of employment elsewhere — has become 
impossible of use on account of the limitation of freedom 
of movement and the prohibition of residence elsewhere 
than in the few towns of the Pale of Settlement. If they 
do not wish to die of hunger or go begging Jewish work- 
men must submit unreservedly to the conditions prescribed 
by the manufacturers. The Jewish capitalists, too, are 
seriously injured by the burdensome effect of the special 
regulations which have, owing to the restraints of the 
May laws, taken from them every freedom of action, 
and deprived them of the power of disposing of 
their products in markets outside the Pale of Settle- 
ment. . . . " x 

1 The Times j June 14, 1905. 


In addition, the Jews are confined to the most ignoble 
occupations. They are excluded from the High Schools 
and the Universities of the Christians, and are for- 
bidden to keep secular schools of their own. The 
only teaching accessible to the ordinary Russian Jew 
is Rabbinical teaching. The centre of this education 
is the Talmudical School of Walosin, known among 
the Jews as the " Tree of Life College," founded 
in 1803 by a disciple of Elijah Wilna, a famous Hebrew 
scholar, and maintained by contributions collected from 
all parts of the Russian " pale." The institution provides 
spiritual and bodily food — both very primitive in quality 
and meagre in quantity — to some four hundred hungry 
students who spend three-fourths of their time poring 
over the records of the past, and the other fourth is 
denouncing a present of which they know nothing. 
Ignorance fosters fanaticism, and the authority of the 
Synagogue which, under different circumstances, might 
have been used as an instrument of conciliation, is turned 
into a source of bitterness. The seed of discord between 
Jew and Gentile, sown by oppression, is nursed by the 
benighted Rabbis, who regard thirst for secular know- 
ledge as more sinful than thirst for alcohol ; and the 
poisonous plant is assisted in its growth by the young 
Jews who, having contrived to obtain abroad an education 
denied to them at home, intensify the just animosity of 
their people against the Christian oppressors. The ill- 
feeling is invigorated further still by the Jewish recruits 
who, on the expiration of their term of service, return to 
their families exasperated by the hardships and the insults 
which they have experienced in the ranks, for the Hebrew 
soldier in the Russian army is treated exactly as the 
Christian recruit is treated in the Turkish Gendarmerie. 
In both cases, not only is promotion out of the question, 1 
but the infidels are the victims of unmeasured invective, 

1 Towards the end of 1904 a Bill was introduced in the Council 
of the Empire, preventing the promotion even of baptized Jews. But, 
owing to reasons which will be explained in the sequel, it was with- 
drawn. — The newspaper Fosfod, reported by Reuter in a despatch dated 
St. Petersburg, Dec. 23. 


malice, and injury at the hands of their colleagues and 
superiors. They are, as a race, considered unclean and 
unfriendly. They form a small minority. They are 
powerless to protect themselves, and the officers will not 
take them under their protection. The less deserved the 
insult, the more anxious will the victim be to recover 
his self-esteem by revenge. Is it, then, to be wondered 
at that the Russian Jews are distinguished among their 
fellow-slaves for their eager participation in any insur- 
rectionary movement that offers the faintest hope of relief 
and revenge ? To turn a population which, by instinct 
and interest alike, is the most conservative and peaceful in 
the world into a people of anarchists is, indeed, the highest 
triumph hitherto achieved by Russian statesmanship. 

The hatred towards the Jew is shared by the Russian's 
enemy, the Pole, and for similar reasons — economic pre- 
ponderance and excessive addiction to usury and the 
trade in liquor. In 1863 the revolutionary Government 
of Poland endeavoured to enlist the sympathies of the 
Jews in the struggle against the common oppressor by 
conceding to them civic equality. The experiment was 
crowned with brilliant success. Justice turned the Jews 
of Poland into Polish patriots. But the reconciliation did 
not outlive the revolution. After that short spell of 
liberty the ancient prejudice revived, and now, though 
legally the Jews of Poland are still Polish citizens, the 
Catholics of Poland, encouraged by their Orthodox 
tyrants of Russia, vie with them in their fierce contempt 
for the race which stood their common fatherland in so 
good stead in the hour of its need. How intense this 
feeling is, may be seen from the following account by 
an English eye-witness: 

" To the Jew in Warsaw is meted out a wealth of 
disfavour and contempt that is hardly pleasant to witness. 
The British stranger, however, who normally lives far 
from any personal contact with these huge Jewish popu- 
lations, is not altogether in a position to pass judgment 
on this deeply-seated anti-Semitic rancour. It pervades 
all classes of Polish society, and finds expression in a 
variety of ways. The youth who obligingly performs my 


minor marketing for me, in return for a tolerant attitude 
on my part on the subject of small change, was interested 
in the fate of an egg which I had pronounced to have 
passed the age limit of culinary usefulness. 

" * Don't throw it away,' he begged ; f give it to me.' 

" c What do you want it for ? ' 

" ' Oh, it will do to throw at a Jew.' " x 

One exception to the mutual antipathy which divides 
the Jew of Poland from his Gentile fellow-countryman is 
offered by the upper class of the Jews of Warsaw. While 
the masses of the nation, cut-ofF from all but commercial 
intercourse with their Christian neighbours, live huddled 
together in separate quarters, fed on the traditions of the 
past, and observing, in dress, diet and deportment, the 
ordinances of the Talmud in all their ancient strictness, 
a small minority of their cultured brethren has over- 
stepped the narrow limits of orthodox Judaism and 
identified itself in all things, save creed, with the Poles, 
whose national aspirations it shares and with whom it 
does not even shrink from inter-marrying occasionally. 
But this reconciliation is confined to that infinitesimal 
class which, thanks to its wealth, is free from persecution, 
and in temperament, sentiment, and ideas belongs to the 
most advanced section of Occidental Jews rather than to 
the Jewry of Eastern Europe. Besides, it is a recon- 
ciliation strenuously opposed by the Russian authorities 
which, while inciting the Poles against the Jews, encourage 
the Jews to cling to their exclusiveness and to resist all 
Polish national aspirations as alien to them. 

Yet, in spite of all disabilities, and as though in quiet 
mockery of them, the Russian Jews contrive not only 
to exist, but, in some degree, to prosper. Their skill, 
their sobriety, their industry, their indomitable patience, 
their reciprocity, and their cunning — all fostered by the 
persecution of centuries — enable them to hold their own 
in the struggle, and to evade many of the regulations 
which are intended to bring about their extinction. 
They often obtain a tacit permission to live in various 
trading places beyond the "pale," and in many villages 

l H. H. Munro in the Morning Post, June 3, 1904. 


in which they have no legal right of residence. Voca- 
tions forbidden by law are pursued by the conniv- 
ance of corrupt officials, and the despised outcasts 
frequently succeed in amassing large fortunes as merchants 
or contractors, by the practice of medicine, or at the 
Bar, or in earning a respectable livelihood as professors 
and authors, and even as Government servants ! 

Even culture is not allowed to die out. National 
enthusiasm, fomented by persecution, and denied political 
self-expression, finds an outlet in literature. In spite of 
the State, the Church, and the Synagogue, the darkness 
of the Russian ghetto is illumined by gifted writers in 
prose and verse, like Perez, Abramovitch, Spektor, Gold- 
faden, and others, who have invested the debased 
Yiddish jargon of the Russian Jew with the dignity of 
their own genius, and have produced a literature popular 
in form as well as in sentiment — a literature which 
reflects with wonderful vividness and fidelity the humour 
and the sadness of Russian life, and under a different 
guise carries on Mendelssohn's educational mission. In 
addition to these original works, there is a vast activity 
in every department of foreign literature and science, 
including translations from many European languages, 
and a vigorous periodical press which disseminates the 
products of Western thought among the masses of the 
ghetto. So that the Russian Jew has access, through his 
own Yiddish, not only to works of native creation, but 
also to the most popular of foreign books, great and 
otherwise : from Goethe's Faust and Shakespeare's Hamlet 
to Sir A. Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. 
Side by side with these efforts to foster the Yiddish 
element proceeds a movement on behalf of the Hebrew 
element, while the upper classes of Polish Jews are 
actively promoting Polish culture among their poorer 
Yiddish-speaking brethren. All these movements, whether 
conducted on parallel or on mutually antagonistic lines, 
supply sure evidence of one thing — the vitality of the 
Russian Jewry. 

This success, however, while affording consolation to 
the sufferers, fans the aversion of the persecutors and 


spurs the Government to a periodical renewal of the 
measures of coercion. It is acknowledged that, under 
fair conditions, the Russian Jew, owing to his superior 
intelligence, versatility, perseverance, and temperance, 
would in a few years beat the Russian Christian in every 
field of activity. Hence it is the Russian Christian's 
interest and resolve to crush him. This resolve is 
cynically avowed by Russians of the highest rank. 
The late M. De Plehve, Minister of the Interior, 
in an audience granted to a deputation of Jews in 
April, 1904, confessed with amazing candour that the 
barbarous treatment of their race was dictated by no other 
reason than its superiority over the Russian. " You are a 
superior race," said the Minister. "Therefore, if free 
entrance to the High Schools were to be accorded to you, 
you would attain, although through worthy and honest 
means, too much power. It is not just that the minority 
should overrule the majority." He then proceeded to 
inform his hearers that he held the Jews responsible for 
the revolutionary agitation in the Empire and for the 
murders of Imperial functionaries, concluding with a 
warning and a threat, and dismissing them with the 
assurance, "You need not count on obtaining equal 
rights with the Christian population." 1 

The eternal feud found another tragic and characteristic 
expression on a large scale in the spring of 1903. It 
was Easter Day. The good Christian folk of Kishineff, 
the capital city of Bessarabia, had been to church where 
they had heard the glad tidings of their Lord's resur- 
rection, had joined in the hymn of triumph, and then 
had greeted one another with the kiss of brotherly 
love and the salutation, " Christ is risen ! " " He is 
risen, indeed ! " Directly after, they fell upon their 
fellow-citizens — whose ancestors crucified Christ nineteen 
hundred years ago. The Jewish colony was sacked, 
many Jews were slaughtered without distinction of sex 
or age, and their dwellings, as well as their shops, were 
looted. Soldiers were seen helping the rioters in the work 
of destruction and carrying off their share of the spoils. 

1 Statement by M. De Plehve, The Standard, April 8, 1904. 


Like its predecessors, this outrage excited profound 
indignation in many parts of the civilised world. 
Protests were raised in France, in the United States of 
America, and in Australia. At Melbourne there was 
held a crowded meeting, presided over by the Lord 
Mayor, and the Anglican Bishop of the city moved a 
resolution, which was unanimously carried, expressing 
" the meeting's abhorrence of the merciless outrages 
committed upon the KishinefF Jews, including helpless 
women and children," and the hope " that the Russian 
Government would take effectual measures to prevent 
the repetition of crimes which were a stain on humanity 
at large." The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne 
moved that the resolution be transmitted to the Lord 
Mayor of London. Similar resolutions were adopted at 
meetings held in Sydney. 1 In London mass meetings 
were held at Mile-end and Hyde Park, where 
thousands of Jews with their women and children 
assembled to record their horror at the massacre of their 
Russian brethren, in their various tongues — Russian, 
German, Yiddish, French, Italian, and English. All the 
speakers agreed in tracing the outrages to the instigation 
or the encouragement of the Russian Government. The 
second meeting embodied its sentiments in the following 
terms : 

"The meeting expresses: (i) Its deep sympathy with 
all the sufferers from the riots at KishinefF, and its con- 
dolence with the relatives of the victims. (2) Its 
admiration for all those who, without distinction of 
nationality or creed, risked their lives in defending the 
helpless Jewish population. (3) Its indignation at, and 
abhorrence of, the conduct of the Russian Government, 
which, in order to intimidate the revolutionary forces 
of the people, failed to take steps to prevent the cowardly 
massacre of innocent men, women, and children. (4) Its 
belief that only the development of a powerful working- 
class movement in Russia can prevent the repetition of 
similar atrocities. This meeting also sends fraternal 
encouragement to all who are working for the overthrow 
1 Reuter telegram, dated Melbourne, June 4, 1903. 


of the present regime and the advent of Socialism in 
Russia." x 

The conviction that the massacre was due to the direct 
inspiration of the Russian Government was shared by- 
others than the Jews. Dr. Barth, the German Radical 
Leader, published in Die Nation, a Berlin weekly journal, an 
unsigned paper, stated to be from the pen of a Russian 
occupying a high position, in which the writer says : 

" M. Plehve, Minister of the Interior, is directly 
responsible for the KishinefF massacre. He is a patron of 
M. Kruschevan, the editor of the anti-Semite paper 
Bessarabets, and has even granted him a subsidy of 
25,000 roubles to conduct a second anti-Semite organ at 
St. Petersburg called the Znamya. M. Plehve desired to 
increase the subsidy, but M. Witte, the Minister of 
Finances, intervened. M. Kruschevan then, thanks to 
M. Plehve's patronage, was enabled to draw money from 
the National Bank without security." 

After asserting that General von Raaben, the Governor 
of Bessarabia, did nothing to avert or stop the rioting, 
while M. Ostragoff, the Vice-Governor, was actually at 
the same time a contributor to the Bessarabets, and also the 
censor, the writer proceeds : " M. Plehve desires to divert 
Christians from their own grievances, so he conducts a 
campaign of Jew-baiting. The Czar was indignant when 
he heard of the massacre. He wished to send an aide-de- 
camp to report on the matter, but M. Plehve managed 
to dissuade his Majesty, and sent instead M. Kopuchin, 
one of his creatures, who drew up a mild report, which 
M. Plehve further doctored before submitting to the 

Summing up, the writer says ; " The KishinefF massacre 
has nothing to do with revolutionary tendencies. It is 
simply the result of systematic Jew-baiting, organised by 
M. Plehve, whose position is still unshaken, and who 
holds the Czar under his thumb by working upon his 
feelings and persuading him that the country is honey- 
combed with revolution and anarchy. No change is 
possible until M. Plehve has ceased to have the ear of 

1 The Daily Chronicle, June 22, 1903. 


the Czar. Further anti-Semitic disturbances are pro- 
bable." 1 

An American diplomatist endorses the statement that 
M. De Plehve was really responsible for the massacre, 2 
while a Russian Prince affirms that the instigators of the 
massacre, such as the Moldavian Kruschevan, editor of the 
Bessarabets, " were under the personal protection of 
the Minister." 3 

Despite the efforts of the Russian Government to 
represent the brutal outrage as due solely to a spontaneous 
explosion of popular fury arising from " national, religious, 
and economic hatred," 4 certain facts which came to light 
during the mock trial, held towards the end of that year 
in the very scene of the massacre, seem to prove that, 
though such hatred did exist, the spark which set the 
mine on fire was not of popular origin. The passions of 
the people had been carefully inflamed by a pamphlet 
entitled Who is to blame ? — the work of an anti-Semitic 
agitator of the name of Pronin, who was in relations with 
the proprietor of the Novoe Vremya, the eloquent exponent 
of Panskvism. But that was not all. Though special 
envoys of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the 
Interior kept a watchful eye on the course of the pro- 
ceedings ; though the Court exerted itself to prevent the 
production of undesirable evidence ; and though, in 
true mediaeval fashion, an attempt was made to lay the 
blame for the crime on the shoulders of the victims — 
by stories of a Jew's assault on a Christian woman, of 
the desecration of churches and the murder of priests — 
yet the evidence given, even under such conditions, 
without absolving the populace, tends to establish the 
deliberate connivance, not to say the complicity, of the 

1 Reuter telegram, dated Berlin, May 30, 1903. 
2 Andrew D. White, "A Diplomat's Recollections of Russia," The 
Century Magazine, Nov. 1904. 

3 Prince Kropotkin, "The Constitutional Agitation in Russia," The 
Nineteenth Century, Jan. 1905. 

4 Those were the words of the Crown Prosecutor at the KishinefF 
Trial, The Times, Dec. 25, 1903. 


A Christian ex-mayor of the city and another respectable 
citizen of Kishineff both declared that, in their opinion, 
the contemptuous and intolerant attitude of the Christian 
population towards the Jews is due to the special legisla- 
tion to which the latter are subjected. The ex-mayor 
further stated that throughout the riots the police and 
military authorities refused to intervene on behalf of the 
victims. The administrator of the properties of the 
monasteries in Bessarabia and two other witnesses deposed 
that they had repeatedly appealed to the police to protect 
the Jews, but in vain. A Jew, whose son had been 
butchered before his eyes, testified that he had fallen at 
the feet of a police officer and, leading him to the spot 
where the bodies of his son and another man were lying 
in pools of blood, had besought him, with tears in his 
eyes, to shield the survivors. The officer did not raise a 
finger in their defence. Several policemen also confessed 
that, on asking for orders from their superiors, the answer 
they had received was, " Let the Jews help themselves ; 
we cannot help them." General Beckmann deposed that 
at the commencement of the riots he had at his disposal 
a force amply sufficient to quell the disturbance, but he 
received no orders to act. " It was only," he said, "when 
the Governor grew alarmed for the safety of the Christian 
population that he took measures to allay the fury of 
the mob." 1 The myth of Jewish provocation was also 
disposed of by a police officer, who stated that, when the 
outbreak occurred, there was not a single Jew in the 
square in which the outrage was alleged to have taken 
place. To conclude, " evidence was given by physicians 
and others as to the mutilation of the bodies of murdered 
Jews, and two priests of the Orthodox Church testified 
that the report that the Jews had desecrated a church 
and murdered a priest was absolutely without foun- 
dation." 2 

And the punishment for this wholesale assassination 
of a harmless and defenceless population ? 

Two men, convicted of murder, were sentenced to 
seven and five years* penal servitude respectively. 
1 The Times, Dec. 19, 1903. 2 Ibid. 


Twenty-two others to periods of imprisonment, ranging 
from one to two years, and one to six months. 

Forty-eight civil actions for damages that were brought 
against the accused were all dismissed. 1 

Even Richard the Crusader did better in 11 89. 

One luminous spot in the gloomy picture is the action of 
the Eastern Church. Not only did the priests and monks 
of Bessarabia exculpate the Jews from all provocation of 
the massacre, but even Father John of Kronstadt publicly 
condemned the dastardly crime of his co-religionists. 

The only genuine result of the trial and of the reve- 
lations made in its course was to intensify the wrath of 
the fanatical Russian and Moldavian populace, both of 
the town and of the open country, who threatened 
reprisals for the punishment of a few of their brother- 
butchers. The fear of such reprisals forced many 
thousands of the poorer Jews of Bessarabia to migrate 
into the districts of Russian and Austrian Poland, which 
were already congested to a terrible degree, while those 
who possessed the necessary means determined to 
emigrate from the Czar's dominions and seek a home 
in the West. While the trial was still proceeding, a 
deputation of Bessarabian Jews arrived in the city. 
Their object was to confer with the heads of the 
Jewish community, on behalf of their co-religionists in 
various rural districts of Bessarabia, with a view to leaving 
the country which had declared in so sanguinary a 
manner its unwillingness to harbour them. It was pro- 
posed that a number of Jewish families should emigrate 
to the Argentine Republic and join their brethren, already 
settled in that and other parts of America by Baron 
Hirsch at different times, especially after the exodus of 
1892. Four thousand souls, the delegates affirmed, were 
anxious to wind up their affairs and quit the inhospitable 
country. 2 

Flight, under the apprehension of slaughter, is avowed 
to be one of the objects which induced the Russian 
authorities to connive at the massacre and to profess 

1 Reuter telegram, dated KishinefF, Dec. 21, 1903. 

2 Reuter telegram, dated St. Petersburg, Dec. 17, 1903. 


their inability to prevent its repetition : " Russian policy 
at the present hour," proudly declares an eminent Russian 
anti-Semite, " seems to have one object in view — that of 
starting a free emigration of the Jews from Russia. But 
the total number of Jewish emigrants during the last 
twenty years was only about a million." 1 Obviously, 
occasional slaughter alone is sadly insufficient. 

As in 1 88 1 and 1891, so in 1903 the Czar's ministers 
hastened to supplement massacre by measures of 
administrative coercion. They decided to forbid Jews, 
until the revision of the laws concerning them has 
been accomplished by means of fresh legislation, to 
acquire land or real estate, or to enjoy the usufruct 
thereof, either within or without the Governments 
situated within the residential " pale." This decision of 
the Committee of Ministers was submitted to the Czar 
and received his approval. Permission, however, was 
granted to the Jews to settle and acquire real estate at 
places within the "pale," which in consequence of their 
industrial development partake of the character of towns. 2 
A few months later, at the moment when the Kishineff 
trial was drawing to a close, the Governor-General at 
Warsaw issued peremptory instructions to all the Assis- 
tant Governors in the Vistula Province, directing- them 
to put in rigorous force the Law of 1891, which 
prohibits Jews from purchasing or leasing immoveable 
property in the rural districts. 3 

This outburst of Jew-hatred was not confined to 
Bessarabia. Soon after the Kishineff massacre reports 
reached this country of further outrages being apprehended 
owing to the symptoms of anti-Semitism manifested by 
the inhabitants of the western provinces of the Empire. 
Nor were these forebodings falsified by events. In the 
middle of September, 1903, Jew-baiting was once more 
indulged in at Gomel, a town of Mohileflf within the 
Jewish " pale." A petty squabble between a Jew and 

1 M. O. Menchikoff, one of the editors of the Novoe Vretnya, " The 
Jewish Peril in Russia," The Monthly Review, Feb. 1904. 

2 Reuter telegram, dated St. Petersburg, June 4, 1903. 

3 The Standard correspondent at Kieff, under date Dec. 18, 1903. 


a Christian in the bazaar afforded an excuse to the 
co-religionists of the latter to wreck the Jewish quarter. 
Several persons were killed on both sides ; but the only 
details available are official, which in Russia is not a 
synonym for authentic. 1 

The charge most frequently brought against the Jews 
by the Russian people is, as has been shown, their aversion 
from productive labour, and their exclusive attachment to 
traffic in goods and money. The Russian Government 
some years ago attempted to remove the grievance by 
affording to the Jews facilities for the pursuit of agri- 
culture. In seven out of the fifteen provinces open to 
the Jews, efforts were made to form Jewish agricultural 
settlements. But they do not seem to have been attended 
by conspicuous success. Towards the end of 1903 an 
inquiry instituted into the matter elicited conflicting 
answers. Three of the seven reports, drawn up by pro- 
vincial Governors, are altogether discouraging. It is 
pointed out that the Jewish peasant shirks the hard work 
of tilling the soil and only helps to reap the produce. In 
one province, the official document asserts, sixty per cent. 
of the Jews have already abandoned the settlement and 
turned to the more congenial pursuits of commerce and 
industry. Another report draws an unfavourable com- 
parison between the Jewish and the Christian farmer, and 
repeats the opinion that the former takes little interest in 
the culture of the soil, preferring less laborious occupa- 
tions. All three reports agree in showing that the 
experiment of making a husbandman of the Hebrew is 
a complete failure. On the other hand, we find a fourth 
Governor maintaining that in his province the only 
difference between a Christian and a Jewish agriculturist 
consists in their respective religions. A fifth, while 
admitting the Jew's practical ill-success, attributes it to 
the smallness of his farm, which forces him to give up 
agriculture as profitless, and he adds that under favour- 
able conditions the results have been not disappointing. 
The Governor of Kherson states that, though at first the 

1 A meagre account of the occurrence appeared in The Standard, Sept. 
25, 1903. 


Jews evinced little inclination to turn to the land, upon 
the revision and improvement of the original conditions, 
the settlements became more popular; so that in 1898 
seventy-three per cent, of the Jewish population were 
exclusively devoted to agriculture, nineteen per cent, 
varied the monotony of farming by the combination 
of trade, while only eight per cent, were engaged entirely 
in commerce or industry. This authority expresses the 
conviction that, as time goes on, the Jew will develop 
into a successful agriculturist, provided he is allowed to 
compete on fair terms with the Christian farmers. 1 

An impartial examination of these contradictory 
opinions seems to lead to the conclusion that the Jew, by 
nature and the education of two thousand years, is too 
good a tradesman to make a good husbandman. He is 
too keen-witted, too enterprising, too ambitious to find 
adequate satisfaction in the slow and solitary culture of 
the soil. In this respect the modern Jew is like the 
modern Greek. The drudgery of field work repels him. 
The tedium of country life depresses him. " No profit 
goes where no pleasure is ta'en." It is in the bustle of 
the market-place, where man meets man, where wit is 
pitted against wit, and the intellect is sharpened on the 
whetstone of competition, that his restless soul finds its 
highest gratification and most congenial employment. 
He is a born townsman and a born traveller. He has 
none of the stolid endurance of the earth-born. Although 
he can excel in most pursuits, there is apparently one 
thing beyond the reach of his versatility. He cannot dig. 

The Russian peasant under normal conditions is the 
reverse of all this : indolent, intemperate, improvident, 
unintelligent, and unambitious, he lives entirely in the 
present, unhaunted by regrets of the past, unharassed by 
plans for the future, and blissfully unaware of the 
existence of any world beyond the world which his eye 
can see — a very type of the earth-born, such as England 
knew him in the glorious days of Chivalry and Wat 
Tyler. To such a race even less formidable and foreign 
a competitor than the unbelieving Jew would appear a 
l The Times, Dec. 21, 1903. 

IN RUSSIA 3 6 5 

monster of iniquity. And yet, there is abundant evidence 
to prove that it is not the Russian peasant's instinctive 
antipathy which is primarily responsible for the sufferings 
of the Jew. The Russian Jew, owing to his difference 
from the Russian Christian in race, religion, temperament 
and mode of living, is by the latter regarded with 
contempt and prejudice. These feelings, however, are 
not the only causes of persecution. Formerly, as we 
have seen, the Jews were reproached with excessive 
addiction to trade in liquor, whereby, it was alleged, 
they ruined the peasantry in health, purse and morals. 
This charge, whatever its value may have once been, can 
no longer be brought against the Jews ; for the Russian 
Government, since it established a monopoly of spirits, 
has become the exclusive public-house keeper in the 
Empire. The charge of usury still remains. But it can 
easily be proved that in many districts the usurer is the 
powerful Russian landlord and not the Jew. As a dis- 
tinguished Russian Liberal has appositely remarked, " the 
usurer must needs be a wealthy person — a poor devil 
like the Jewish colonist settled amidst the ' Little Russian ' 
peasantry may possibly long for credit ; he certainly is 
not in a position to give it." 1 

According to the same authority, in "Little Russia" 
most of the Jewish villagers are either shop-keepers and 
retail dealers, or cobblers, tailors, smiths and the like. 
They form the commercial and industrial element in the 
rural population, and their expulsion means economic 
distress to the Russian husbandman, who, therefore, if 
left to himself, is not unwilling to forgive the Jew the 
Old Crime, and to forget his own prejudice against the 
foreigner and the follower of an abhorred creed. But 
he is not left to himself. The peasant's latent antipathy 
is stirred to violence by the Nationalist agitators and 
Government officials, who collaborate in endeavouring to 
stifle the alien and revolutionary Jew through the 
brutality of the lower classes ; assisted by the artisans 
and mechanics who by the persecution of the foreigner 

1 Tugan-Baranowsky, "Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Russia," The 
Monthly Revieiv, Jan. 1904. 


and the infidel seek the extinction of a successful com- 
petitor. All the outbreaks of anti-Jewish hatred, from 
1 88 1 to this day, were organised by the police authorities 
in accordance with a well-matured plan known as pogrom. 
The procedure consists in deliberately inciting by word 
of mouth and printed proclamations the dregs of society 
against the classes or sects of the community obnoxious 
to the Government, and then, when the work is done, 
suppressing the riot by the barbarous methods which are 
so typical of Russian administration. The same process 
is applied for the mutual extermination of others than 
the Jews. It is a process based on the maxim divide et 
impera — the last resource of an incompetent ruler. 1 
1904-05 The disasters which befell the Russian arms in the Far 
East, the discontent which they created at home, and the 
danger of a revolutionary upheaval of all the oppressed 
elements of the Empire induced the Czar's Government 
to reconsider its attitude towards the suffering subjects of 
the Czar. The Austrian journal Pester Lloyd ventured to 
give some good advice to that effect : " During the 
Napoleonic Wars the rulers captivated their subjects by 
promising them liberty and constitutions. Whoever 
wishes well to Russia must advise her to imitate the 
example." In accordance with that policy of tardy 
conciliation which circumstances dictated, some Russian 
Liberals who had been banished for their championship of 
the interests of the people were permitted to return from 
exile, new Governors-General were appointed to Finland 
and Poland, with instructions to pursue a more lenient 
policy than their predecessors, a decree was issued order- 
ing the Finnish Parliament to assemble, its property was 
restored to the Armenian Church, and other steps were 
taken showing that there was at least a desire to diminish 
the sources of general discontent by conceding to 
necessity what had hitherto been denied to justice. 
The Jews, naturally enough, could not be forgotten. 

1 Some very illuminating revelations concerning the organisation of 
these authorised riots were made during a recent trial at St. Petersburg. 
See Reuter telegram from that town, Oct. 26, 1906, and an account 
by the Tribune correspondent under same date. 


Besides the danger which, in common with the other 
distressed and disaffected subjects, they constitute to the 
Russian State, there were less negative reasons for their 
propitiation. The Russian Government was anxious to 
replenish the Treasury, emptied by the unfortunate war. 
The Jewish financiers of the West constitute a great 
power, and that power is known to entertain a deep and 
abiding hostility towards Russia. Jewish capitalists the 
world over are actuated by a strong desire to avenge the 
wrongs of their co-religionists, and they have the means of 
gratifying that desire. Once more the Jew's wealth has 
proved potent enough to blunt the edge of prejudice. 
The Czar's Ministers endeavoured to pacify the Jewish 
financiers by making a few trivial concessions to their 
persecuted brethren. M. De Plehve in May 1904, acting 
in direct contradiction to the views expressed in April, 
submitted to the Council of the Empire a Bill for repeal- 
ing the law under which Jews were forbidden to reside 
within fifty versts of the Western frontier. It is true that 
the imputation that the Bill was dictated by a Jewish 
banker as an indispensable condition for a loan was 
strongly resented and repudiated in official circles. The 
Russians, in proof of the spontaneous nature of the pro- 
posal, declared that the Minister had, long before the 
necessity for loans arose, been striving towards a relaxa- 
tion of Jewish disabilities. This statement has been 
partially corroborated by a distinguished Jewish gentleman, 
who also affirms from personal knowledge that M. De 
Plehve had for some time past endeavoured to alleviate 
the lot of the Russian Jews by granting to them every 
liberty — save emancipation. 1 It was added that the pro- 
cess had naturally been gradual, owing to Russian social 
conditions, that as early as May 1 903 the Council of the 
Empire had passed a Bill of M. De Plehve' s permitting 
the Jews to reside in 103 new places, and that 65 more 
had been added in the autumn. At the same time a 
Commission had been appointed to examine the laws 
relating to the Jews, especially those engaged in productive 

1 See Reuter telegram, dated St. Petersburg, June 13, and Mr. 
Lucien Wolf's letter in The Times of June 14, 1904. 


labour. These statements may, of course, be literally 
correct. But, until M. De Plehve's utterances of the 
previous April be proved to be a forgery, it is permissible 
to doubt their accuracy in so far as the Minister's good- 
will towards the Jews is concerned. 

M. De Plehve was in the State what M. Pobie- 
donostseff was in the Church. The Minister of the 
Interior, like the Imperial Procurator of the Holy 
Synod, represented and led for the last two decades or 
more the party of reaction. By their Panslavist followers 
these two men were described as the two pillars of the 
patriotic edifice of Russian national life, which is raised on 
the ruins of the other nationalities. By their opponents 
they were denounced as the two ministering demons of 
Despotism and Dogmatism under their most repulsive 
aspects. It was, therefore, with no surprise that the 
civilised world heard on July 28, 1904, that M. De 
Plehve's name had been entered on the roll of Russian 
victims to that ruthless spirit of revenge, whose cult their 
own ruthlessness helps to promote. He died unlamented, 
as he had lived unloved ; for a tyrant has no friends. 
But that he was, as an individual, the incarnate fiend that 
his enemies depicted, is a theory improbable in itself, and 
disproved by those who came into contact with him. At 
the very worst he may have been an ambitious man who, 
by pursuing the course which he did, " sought to win the 
favour of the reactionary faction which at present controls 
the Czar, and thus to fight his way towards the highest 
power." x But a less severe estimate would, perhaps, be 
nearer the true one. M. De Plehve was the champion 
of an ideal. He honestly believed that in autocracy lay 
Russia's salvation. Though surrounded by dangers, and 
warned by the fate of his former master Alexander II., of 
his predecessor Sipyaghin, of his instrument in the oppres- 
sion of Finland Bobrikoff, and of many of his colleagues 
and subordinates, he unflinchingly persevered in the path 
which he had marked out for himself. A man who 
imperils his own life in the pursuit of a certain object is 

1 Andrew D. White, " A Diplomat's Recollections of Russia," The 
Century Magazine, Nov. 1904. 


not the man to treat with tenderness those who strive to 
thwart him. M. De Plehve's object was to silence oppo- 
sition to the principles of autocracy. He pursued that 
object with the unswerving firmness of a strong man, and 
crushed the obstacles with the relentless conscientiousness 
of one who is absolutely convinced of the righteousness of 
his cause. To such a man political virtue means thorough- 
ness combined with an utter lack of scruple and a total 
disregard of all moral restraint in the service of the State 
and the pursuit of its welfare. He was engaged in a game 
the stakes of which were greatness or death. He lost it. 

But though the dispassionate student can have nothing 
but pity for a brave man perishing in the performance of 
what he deemed to be his duty, he can also sympathise 
with those who hailed their arch-enemy's death with 
savage delight. They saw in M. De Plehve, not a 
tragic character drawing upon himself the vengeance of 
an inexorable Ate, but only the merciless Minister, the 
oppressor of those who differed from him in their political 
ideals, the executioner of men whose sole crime was their 
loyalty to the faith of their fathers and the traditions of 
their race. As the lawyer Korobchevsky said before the 
Court, in defence of the assassin : " The bomb which 
killed the late Minister of the Interior was filled, not 
with dynamite, but with the burning tears of the mothers, 
sisters, wives, and daughters of the men whom he sent to 
the gallows, or to die slowly in prison or in Siberia." 

Among the sufferers from M. De Plehve's policy none 
had greater reasons to hate him than the Jews. He 
regarded them, not without cause, as the most energetic 
opponents to his autocratic schemes, and his antipathy 
towards them on that account was enhanced by his 
just appreciation of their abilities. Hence the ex- 
ceptional rigour in his treatment of them. M. De 
Plehve used to refer to the revolutionary activity of 
the Jewish youth as a justification for his own measures 
of coercion. That the Jews should be ready to join, 
or even lead, in every attempt to overthrow the social 
and political system under which they suffer so grievously 
is only natural. Equally natural it is that the man to 


whom that system was everything should have tried to 
suppress them. The Kishineff massacre, as we have seen, 
was universally attributed to M. De Plehve, and when the 
news of his assassination went forth few surpassed the Jews 
in their exultation. The Jewish daily paper Forward, of 
New York, immediately organised a meeting under the 
auspices of the United Russian Revolutionists. The 
demonstrators filled one of the largest halls in New York 
to overflowing, and at every mention of M. De Plehve's 
assassin, Sazonoff, burst into delirious applause. He was 
praised as the worthy son of a noble cause ; his victim 
was described as the captured Port Arthur of Russian 
despotism, and the interference of the police alone 
checked the enthusiasm. 1 

But, even granting the spontaneity and the disinterested- 
ness of the concessions which the Russian Government 
declared itself prepared to make to the Jews, they would have 
only affected a limited number of them. M. De Plehve's 
plan at best was to bring about the conciliation of the race 
by the absorption of the better class of them and by the 
half-hearted application of some palliatives to the grievances 
of the poorer, such as the enlargement of the area within 
which they are confined, and permission to emigrate. 2 
The experiment in assimilation, of which the Baltic provinces, 
Poland and Finland, supplied a sample, was not one that 
commended itself to the Jews. But, even if it succeeded, 
the vast majority of the race would continue in their 
normal state of slavery. The same remark applies to a 
remedial scheme drafted and adopted a few weeks later by 
a departmental conference presided over by M. De Witte. 
The Financial Minister's association with the step lent 
colour to the suspicion that this newly-awakened bene- 
volence towards the Jew was not foreign to Russia's 
anxiety to procure fresh supplies of money by the assistance 
of Jewish bankers abroad. However that may be, the 
measures taken do not seem to have produced any marked 
effect on the condition of the Russian Jews. That relief 

x The Standard, Aug. i, 1904. 

2 Lucien Wolf, "M. De Plehve and the Jewish Question," in The 
Times, Feb. 6, 1904. 


which the wretched people could not gain from the Czar's 
compassion, they failed to obtain even from his fears. 

On Aug. 4, 1904, anti-Semitic disturbances broke out 
at Ostrowez, in the Government of Radom, where, 
according to private statements, twenty Jews were killed ; 
according to the Russian authorities, one was seriously 
wounded, and died the following day, while twenty-two 
persons were slightly injured. The same official account 
ascribes the disturbances to the fact that a Jewish boy 
struck a Christian — the blow, it is said, was exaggerated to 
murder, and the mob set out to revenge themselves on 
the Jews. At Partscheff also, in the Government of 
Siedlce, on the following day, it was said that hundreds of 
Jews perished. The official version of the occurrence 
stated that " the police dispersed, without using force, a 
crowd of Jews who had assembled to hide a baptized Jew. 
In a scuffle that ensued twenty persons were wounded." 1 
On September 4 and 5 anti-Semitic riots occurred at 
Smela, in the Province of KiefF. This is the official 
account : " A Jewish shopkeeper struck a peasant woman 
whom he suspected of having stolen some cloth. Imme- 
diately a crowd collected, and plundered and sacked one 
hundred houses and one hundred and fifty shops belonging 
to Jews. That evening a party of sixty Jews attacked 
and beat the Christian inhabitants. When the Jews began 
to fire on the latter the police were summoned, who made 
use of their revolvers, wounding two persons. The next 
evening several hundred railway employes, in spite of the 
prohibition of the officials, went by train to Smela from 
the adjacent station of Bobrinskaia. The rioting was 
renewed, and the troops were summoned. The soldiers 
made use of their weapons, and five persons were seriously 
wounded, while a large number were slightly injured. 
Many arrests were made." 2 In reading these official 
statements one must constantly bear in mind the Russian 
Government's desire to minimise a misfortune or a mis- 
deed which they dare not deny. A few days later, on 
September 11, on the occasion of the Jewish New Year, 

1 Reuter telegram, Aug. 17, 1904. 

2 Reuter telegram, dated St. Petersburg, Sept. 12, 1904. 


another anti-Jewish disturbance occurred at Sosnowice, a 
town on the Siberian frontier. A number of boys threw 
stones at some Jews who were engaged in their annual 
ceremony, slightly injuring a child. This gave rise to a 
rumour that the Jews had killed a child. Numbers of 
workmen marched through the streets in the evening, 
smashing the window-panes of Jewish dwelling-houses and 
of the synagogue. Several Jews were injured by stones 
or knives. Doctors were afraid to render assistance to 
the injured, owing to the attitude of the mob. 1 

Hardly a month had passed since the last-mentioned 
event, when a new outrage occurred in Mohileff. The 
following is a condensed description of the occurrence 
by a well-qualified observer who supports his statements 
by references to numerous witnesses : A political demon- 
stration in the town of Mohileff took place exactly one 
week before the anti-Jewish riots. In Russia it is a crime 
for even four men to come together in a private room 
without the knowledge and permission of the police, and 
it is, therefore, a heinous atrocity for a crowd to gather in 
the streets for a political purpose. Yet that is what 
happened on October 1 5 in Mohileff. The Jewish work- 
men of the place assembled by way of protesting against 
the cruelty of the police, who, without a word of warning, 
had shot down harmless and unarmed Hebrew working 
women and men ; and against the unjust condemnation 
to twelve years' penal servitude of their comrades in 
Yakootsk; and they recorded their wish that the war 
should stop. A few policemen advanced against the 
workmen and tried to disperse them, but were themselves 
scattered by the crowd. Then an overwhelming police 
force marched against the malcontents, but to their dis- 
gust found nobody. At this the Prefect of the Police 
of Mohileff determined that, during the mobilisation 
which was to take place in a few days, from Tsukermann's 
synagogue to the railway station the Jews should be 
thrashed until not a stone remained on the pavement. 

On October 22 the mobilisation of the Reserves was 
promulgated. According to law, the vodka-shops should 

1 Reuter telegram, dated Kattowitz (Silesia), Sept. 1 2, 1 904. 


have been shut on this occasion, and the Jewish population 
had earnestly petitioned the authorities to insist on that 
precaution against disorders being observed. But the 
shops were opened. To the Jewish Reserve soldiers, who 
had assembled by order of the military authorities, the 
Police Prefect addressed the following remarkable words 
in the presence of a great crowd : " You contemptible 
Jews ! You are all foreign democrats ! You ought to 
kiss the hands and feet of the Christians ! You have been 
beaten too little as yet ! You must be thrashed again ! " 

" We may pitch into the Jews and loot their shops," the 
fellows said ; " there will be no punishment. The police 
allow it ; hurrah ! " The subsequent attitude of the 
police amply bore out this expectation. At three p.m. a 
band of petty local traders, not reserves, who had been 
steadily gathering since morning, and were now led by 
striplings, swept across the city, crying, " Pitch into the 
Jews ! " and belabouring all passing Jews with cudgels and 
stones. That day, however, the matter did not go beyond 
the assaulting of individuals and the breaking of windows. 
But none the less several persons were grievously wounded 
and disfigured in the presence of the police, who looked 
on approving. 

The next morning, Sunday, October 23, the panic- 
stricken Jews sent a deputation to the Police Prefect to 
petition for help and to have the dram-shops closed. 
The Prefect consulted the Governor, and then told the 
petitioners that he had been authorised to use his own 
judgment. This answer was construed as a promise that 
the taverns would not be opened. But shortly before 
noon notices were posted up in the streets, signed by the 
Police Prefect himself, informing the public that the 
reports to the effect that on the day before there had 
been disorders in the town, in the course of which several 
persons had been grievously wounded, were misleading. 
What had really happened was " an ordinary, insignificant 
street brawl." This meant that the deeds of violence 
already done were but the flowers, and that the fruits 
were yet to come. 

And they came a few minutes later. On the stroke of 


twelve all the brandy shops were opened, and already at 
one o'clock the sanguinary battle began. Everything had 
been organised beforehand. In all there were about one 
hundred houses and twenty-five shops plundered and 
gutted. A crowd of about 1 50 men did the business : 
sacked the jewellers' shops, looted the wares, broke the 
windows and doors of private houses which were tenanted 
by Jews, and maltreated the people. They chose the 
poorest quarters of the city for the scene of their depre- 
dations, but they advanced to the centre of the town as 
well. The unfortunate Jews implored the police to 
intervene and save them, but these were the replies they 
received : " Be off to your democrats ! Let them help 
you." " That will teach you to beat the police." " You 
have not been thrashed enough yet ; when your throats 
are being cut we shall see." 

The few Jews who dared to defend themselves were 
arrested and beaten by the police, who refused to lay a 
finger upon the hooligans. One witness says : " None 
of the rioters were arrested ; but the police said to them, 
' Lads, that's enough. Now you can go to another place.' " 

Why, it may be asked, did the police behave so cruelly 
and, one may add, so treacherously towards the Jews ? 
The motives are well known, for the Police Prefect 
himself avowed them. Among the witnesses whom the 
writer produces in proof of that statement there is one 
whose words are well worth noting : 

"The Police Prefect sent for me on October 24, and 
said : l You Jews are being beaten on three grounds, in 
the first place, you sneak off to America, and our Russians 
have to spill their blood instead of you. Secondly, you are 
not devoted to the autocracy, and you cry, "Down with the 
autocracy ! " And in the third place, you have no liking 
for the police, and you beat the members of the force.'" 

During the height and heat of the riots a deputation 
from the Jewish community called upon the Governor, 
Klingenberg, and respectfully petitioned him to shield the 
Jews from the rioters. And the Czar's highest repre- 
sentative made answer : " That sort of thing happens 
everywhere. I cannot set a soldier to guard every Jew." 


And as for the police, the Governor publicly praised their 
exemplary conduct, and a money gratification was given 
them ! Yet the police were morally bound to save the 
Jews. Doubly bound, indeed, for, besides their duty to 
the Czar, they were bribed by the Jews to protect them. 
Bribed to do their duty ! 

The accusations made against the Jews, and made 
especially for foreign consumption, are chiefly these : 
They sell vodka to the reserve soldiers at exorbitant 
prices and thus incense these men, who naturally avenge 
themselves by pillaging Jewish shops and houses. They 
evade military service, and then Orthodox Russians have 
to serve in lieu of the Jewish deserters. That, of course, 
embitters the Christian recruits and explains their conduct. 
These accusations are serious and would, of course, 
explain everything except the conduct of the police — if 
they were true. But they are false, and not false only, 
but impossible, as every Russian knows. 

In the first place, it was not reserves who attacked the 
Jews, but local loafers and hooligans. In the second 
place, the Jews could not raise the price of alcohol, nor 
sell it at all, because it is the Imperial Government which 
alone sells vodka, having a monopoly of it. In the third 
place, the Christians have not to serve in the army in lieu 
of Jews. The latter are bound to provide a certain 
number of reserves, and for all of them who desert the 
Jewish community must find members of the same faith. 
In like manner, Russians must take the place of fugitive 
Russians, not of Jews. 

Lastly, there remains the charge of desertion. Is it 
true ? Yes, quite true ; but then it is true of Christians 
and Jews alike, for the war was very unpopular. The 
interesting part of the story is that the Christians shirked 
their duty far more extensively and successfully than the 
Jews. That can be proved by figures, and the following 
data are not likely to be challenged by anyone. Before 
the reserves were called out at all the total of Jews in the 
Manchurian army was roughly thirty thousand men. In 
all probability it exceeded that number, the bulk of them 
serving in Siberian regiments. It is as well, however, to 


state the case moderately. Now, since the mobilisation 
of the reserves (in the districts where the Jewish element 
is largely represented, such as Vilna, Odessa, Warsaw, 
Kieff), the active Russian army had no less than fifty 
thousand soldiers of the Jewish faith. And that is an 
enormous percentage. Indeed, so abnormally great is 
that percentage of Jews that, if the other nationalities who 
acknowledge the sway of the Czar, contributed a pro- 
portionate number of soldiers, Kuropatkin's army would 
have numbered approximately one million I 

And the people who thus shed their blood more freely 
than the Christian Russians would be excusable if they 
deserted en masse , because the Jews enjoy none of the 
privileges accorded to the Russians, and they could not 
therefore be blamed if they refused to look upon Muscovy 
as their fatherland. But, in spite of the injustice done 
them by the Czar's Government, they generously gave 
their lives to the Czar. And the Czar's agents in return 
egged on the hooligans of all Southern and Western 
Russia to pillage, burn, and destroy Jewish property, and 
to beat and kill Jewish men and women. 1 

These experiences and the apprehension of massacres 
on a larger scale have impelled the Jews to form a great 
revolutionary association for organised resistance to the 
organised forces of their enemies. A secret society — 
already notorious as the Bund — arose in Lithuania, 
whence it spread to Poland and other parts of the 
Russian Empire. Its aims are to foster Jewish national 
feeling and to protect Jewish interests. But the pro- 
tection which this body could afford the victims of 
deliberate persecution was necessarily limited. If it 
rescued them from occasional slaughter, it could not 
defend them against chronic starvation. Consequently, 
the exodus, especially from the Province of MohilefF, 
continued : The emigrants were, for the most part, 
Jewish young people of both sexes, who, not having 
any means of existence, left the towns and villages. 
Some villages even became quite deserted. In the town 
of MohilefF itself, where there are no factories of any 

!The Special Commissioner of the Daily Telegraph, Dec. 10, 1904. 


kind or industrial or commercial undertakings except 
shops which are held by Jews, business was quite 
suspended. 1 Within the next five months no fewer than 
75,160 Russian Jews arrived in New York alone. 2 

How this readiness to quit hearth and home, in order 
to seek a new life under unknown skies in the furthest 
corners of the earth, carries us back across the ages to the 
flight of Israel from Egypt i To the Russian Jews groan- 
ing in servitude the Czar's Empire is a foreign land ; 
his religion a foreign religion. In leaving Russia they 
leave a hotbed of idolatry as fierce, as cruel, as Godless as 
the idolatry of Egypt, Babylon, Syria, or Rome. To 
them the Russian god who can sanction such persecution 
is a veritable Moloch. He can claim no kinship with 
Jehovah. They owe it to themselves to escape from the 
house of bondage, and to their God to continue bearing 
witness to His unity. They, therefore, like their remote 
ancestors, seek freedom of worship by expatriation. 
Treated as aliens in their native country, they renounce it 
with as little regret as if they had not been born and bred 
in it. There are, of course, both in Poland and in Russia 
proper, Jews who would gladly conform in everything 
except religion. Such Jews deplore the estrangement of 
the Jew from the Gentile, and believe that the lot of 
the former can be improved only by the removal of the 
legal restrictions which perpetuate that estrangement. 
According to them, if the Jews were allowed to mingle 
freely with the other inhabitants of the Empire, they 
would in time lose all those characteristics which mark 
them off as a people apart, and become patriotic 
subjects of the Czar. But the Russian Government 
in its persecution of the race makes no invidious 
distinctions between these " Assimilators " and their 
sterner brethren. The Jew who ventures to advise 
assimilation alienates his friends without conciliating his 
masters. By its indiscriminate severity the Russian 
autocracy feeds the old spirit of dogged resistance, sullen 
resentment, and inflexible arrogance. 

1 Reuter telegram, dated St. Petersburg, Sept. 3, 1904. 
2 Reuter telegram, dated New York, January 10, 1905. 


It also feeds, as might have been expected, the old 
dream of Redemption and national rehabilitation. The 
Russian Ghetto at the present day is the citadel of 
Hebrew orthodoxy and the recruiting ground for the 
Zionist movement of which we shall speak in the sequel. 
It is natural that it should be. The Jew in the Empire 
of the Czars finds little or no scope for development. 
As we have seen, he is debarred from holding real 
property, from pursuing liberal professions, from engaging 
in many trades. He is a stranger in the land of his 
birth, an outcast among his fellow-countrymen. Chronic 
contempt and oppression are only relieved by periodical 
massacre. Forbidden to be a citizen, he cannot be a 
patriot. He has no life in the present. He, therefore, 
lives in the future. He is an uncompromising idealist. 
The same conditions which deprive him of all induce- 
ment to national assimilation also encourage his religious 
and social separatism. The intolerance of his Christian 
neighbours reacts on his own bigotry. If politically he 
lives on hopes, religiously he lives on traditions. 
Amidst all his calamities, the Jew of the Russian Ghetto 
is sustained by the expectation that the real history of 
his race is still to come. He believes that the ruins 
of the Temple will one day prove the foundations of 
new greatness. While awaiting the fulfilment of the 
ancient prophecies, he clings to the tribal distinctions, 
to the ceremonial laws, and to all those rules of 
omission and performance which tend to perpetuate his 
self-isolation. In the West the Jews have, as patriotic 
citizens of various states, succeeded, by generous con- 
cessions quite compatible with true loyalty to their 
traditions, in the effort to reconcile the old Jewish life 
with modern political conditions. In Russia the Jews 
are denied the opportunity. But they still love the 
land. Therein lies the irony and the hope. 

Such is the lot of Israel in Russia. It is hardly 
better on the western side of the Pruth — in that other 
European country which within three days' journey of 
London continues the Middle Ages. 



In no part of Europe is mediaeval prejudice against the 
Hebrew race more fiercely rampant than in Roumania ; 
for in no other part of Europe, save Russia, are mediaeval 
social conditions and modes of thought and conduct so 
rife. There is hardly any middle class in Roumania yet. 
In that country industries are unknown, commerce is 
scarce and the mechanics are few. Theoretically a 
modern constitutional state, in reality it is a country 
peopled by two extreme castes : the small peasant pro- 
prietors or labourers, and the nobles. The husbandman 
drudges in the open country and the nobleman dissipates 
in the capital. In fact, though not in name, we find in 
the Roumania of to-day Froissart's England, less the 
splendour and the servitude of feudalism. Out of a 
population of five and a half millions, five millions 
are peasants, and these, deprived to a large extent of 
the rights of citizenship and of the opportunities for 
self-improvement, live in almost as abject misery and 
as crass ignorance 1 as they did five centuries ago, repre- 
sented by only thirty members in the Lower House 
of the national Parliament and by none in the Senate, 
while the remaining eleven twelfths of the Lower House 
and the whole of the Senate are elected by the aristocracy 
of a quarter of a million, which also furnishes all the 
officials. The one product of the nineteenth century 
that has found a sincere appreciation in Roumania is 

1 According to the returns of the last census (1899), 78 per 
cent, of the population over 7 years of age can neither read nor 


Nationalism, and it is under this modern cloak that 
mediaeval bigotry loves to parade its terrors on the banks 
of the Danube. 

In Moldavia, the northern portion of the kingdom, 
Jews are first heard of in the fifteenth century, though 
they do not become conspicuous until the eighteenth. It 
was in a village of this province that was born, about 
T700, Israel Baalshem, the founder of the Hebrew sect 
of dissenters known, or rather not known, as the " New 
Chassidim." Baalshem's mission, when denuded of those 
vulgar accessories of the supernatural without which man 
seems incapable of being lifted to higher things, was a 
noble one. In the century which preceded his advent 
Judaism had degenerated into a school of casuistry ; 
simplicity was lost in a maze of sophistical subtlety, con- 
science was stifled beneath a mountain of formalism, and 
faith was drowned in the ocean of Rabbinical nonsense. 1 
In no part of Europe was the decay more complete than 
in these regions. The long-ringleted Rabbis of Poland 
had extended their lethal domination over Moldavia, and 
with their solemn puerilities had perpetuated the spiritual 
sterility of those districts. This, at all events, is the 
impression made on the mind of a modern student, 
whose rationalism may dull him to the latent spirituality 
of the Rabbis and reveal to him perhaps all too clearly 
their sophistry. But, in any case, sophistry can only 
appeal to a people which has reached an advanced 
stage of intellectual senility. The Moldavian Jews 
were still in their intellectual infancy. It was emotion 
and not logic that their soul craved for. The Rabbis 
were mere priests, the Jews of Moldavia needed a 
prophet. Israel Baalshem arrived in time to supply 
the demand and to tear asunder the net of Talmudism. 

An angel announced his birth and foretold to his 
parents that their son would enlighten Israel. After a 
virtuous, if somewhat eccentric life, devoted at first to 
prayer and lamentation in the savage solitude of the 
Carpathian mountains, then to hysterical rapture and to 
miracles in the haunts of men, Baalshem bequeathed his 
x See above, p. 243. 


doctrine and his enthusiasm to faithful disciples who 
carried the legacy over Moldavia, Galicia, and the Russian 
" pale." The principal dogma of Baalshem's teaching is 
the universality of God, His real and living presence in 
every part of creation, pervading, inspiring, and vivifying 
all. Every being, every thing, every thought, every 
action is a manifestation or an image of Divine power and 
love. All things are holy, or contain in them the germs 
of holiness. This knowledge is the fruit of faith, not 
of learning. It is a revelation. The practical results of 
this ethereal teaching are love, charity, and cheerful 
optimism. For how can one presume to hate, despise, or 
condemn anything as evil, foolish, unclean, or ugly, since 
it is the vehicle of Goodness, of Wisdom, of Purity, and 
of Beauty ? The true lover of the Creator must also be a 
lover of His creatures. The end and aim of our life 
is union with God — fusion with the Light of which all 
things are more or less dim reflections. From this 
exposition of his doctrine it will be seen that Israel 
Baalshem was a typical mystic. He belongs to the 
same family of seers as the Neo-Platonists, as St. Teresa 
and St. John of the Cross, as John Bunyan and George 
Fox, as the Mohammedan Sufis, and many other inspired 
dissenters who, scattered though they are over many 
countries, many centuries and many creeds, have three 
cardinal characteristics in common : protest against 
formalism, thirst for vision or revelation, and intense 
desire for absorption in the One. 

This Gospel of Love first preached " in the wild .ravines 
of Wallachia and the dreary steppes of the Ukraine " 
found many listeners. The Rabbis — the upholders of 
book-taught wisdom — denounced the doctrine of direct 
inspiration. The " Pious " retaliated with denunciations 
of the Rabbis. The contest resulted in excommunication, 
in cremation of books and in persecution, which only 
helped to spread the new teaching further. However, 
after the death of the founder and the first apostles, there 
arose internal dissensions which led to a subdivision of the 
" Pious " into sects. Degeneration, hypocrisy, and cor- 
ruption followed disintegration, love was forgotten in the 


pursuit of sectarian and selfish ambitions, and to-day the 
Chassidim, though numbering in Roumania, Poland, and 
South-western Russia about half a million of adherents, 
are scorned by the orthodox as a mob of fanatics, redeemed 
by genuine faith, but deluded and exploited by leaders 
who are no longer saints. 1 

The Jews of Moldavia, already numerous in the time 
of Israel Baalshem, received new additions towards the 
end of the eighteenth century. Then a large number of 
Jewish refugees entered the country from Austria, Poland, 
and Russia, so that at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century they are found scattered all over the province as 
village inn-keepers and resident traders, or as itinerant 
merchants visiting the rural districts and buying or 
advancing money upon the crops. In the big towns also 
they established important colonies — as for example in 
Jassy, where they form more than one third of the 
population, and in Galatz, where they occupy whole streets 
with their shops. In all these centres they live by trade 
or as craftsmen — tinsmiths, glaziers, shoemakers, hatters, 
tailors, butchers, bakers and the like. The southern pro- 
vince of Wallachia is studded with smaller colonies both 
of Spanish and of Polish Jews, while there are families, 
settled chiefly in Bucharest, whose ancestors have been in 
the country from time immemorial. Like their brethren 
of Moldavia the Wallachian Jews also are engaged in 
commerce, handicrafts, and finance, thus forming that 
industrious and intelligent middle class which the 
Christian population lacks. These Jews for ages lived 
on terms of comparative peace with their neighbours ; 
the rich among them educating their children at the 
schools frequented by the children of the native nobility. 
But these friendly relations were not destined to 

As in many other lands, so in Roumania the religion, 
the success, and the aloofness of the Jew raised a host 

1 See a most interesting sketch of the movement in S. Schechter's 
Studies in Judaism, pp. i fol., the same author's article on the sub- 
ject in Nord und Slid, January, 1905, and S. M. Dubnow's article in 
the Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. vi. pp. 251 fol. 


of enemies against him among the Christians. Here, as 
elsewhere, the Jews were often accused of child-murder 
in the eighteenth century. But, while under Turkish 
domination, the Christians were obliged to suppress an 
animosity which they had no power of satisfying. It 
is not till the beginning of the nineteenth century, when 
Russia's interference loosened the Sultan's grasp on the 
Danubian provinces and the Nationalist spirit added fuel 
to the older hatred, that the first symptoms of anti- 
Judaism appear in Moldavia. In 1 804 Prince Mourousi 
issued a decree forbidding the Jews to hold land, except 
that attached to inns. The process of restriction, once 
commenced, advanced with steady and rapid strides, 
accompanied by periodical assaults on the unpopular 
race. The fact that the Jews had gathered the threads 
of commerce in their own hands was alleged as a reason 
for crushing them. But for this fact no one could be 
held responsible, unless it were the Roumanians them- 
selves. An essentially agricultural people, the native 
Christians despise trade, which consequently has always 
been left to the Jews in Moldavia, just as in Wallachia it 
is largely monopolised by Greeks and Armenians. In 
1840 the opening of the Black Sea to international 
commerce drew many more Jews to the country, and the 
ill-feeling against them grew in proportion to the increase 
in their numbers. In 1867 the Roumanian politician, 
Bratiano, exploited the wide-spread prejudice for elec- 
tioneering purposes, and the active persecution of Israel 
entered upon its acutest stage. Religious fanaticism in 
some measure, and racial rivalry in a greater, lent colour 
to a hostility which arose mainly from economic jealousy. 
Usury, that plausible phantom of a long-exploded 
fallacy, was brought forward as an additional excuse for 

Analogous causes led to analogous conditions in 
Roumania's western neighbour, Servia. Under Ottoman 
rule the lot of the Jew in that country differed little from 
that of his Christian fellow-slave. The Mohammedan 
theocracy recognises no rights except those of the true 
believers. Both Jews and Christians, inasmuch as they 


refuse to accept the latest addition to the revealed Word 
of God, are outside the pale of citizenship. But, on the 
whole, the Jews, thanks to their pacific disposition and 
lack of political aspirations, as well as to the closer 
resemblance between the Mosaic and the Mohammedan 
forms of worship, suffered less than the Christian rayahs 
from Turkish oppression. The emancipation of the 
province, while rescuing the Christian from ignominy, 
condemned the Jew to an even worse fate. Under the 
Turk the Jew was at least allowed the congenial privilege 
of buying and selling, whereas under the Christian even 
that consolation was denied to him. In Servia, by a 
curious dispensation of constitutional legislation, the very 
opposite to the one prevailing amongst us before 1858, 
the Jews, while forbidden the most elementary rights of 
citizenship, were theoretically eligible to the highest offices 
in the state. According to Servian law, a Jew could be a 
Prime Minister, but not a grocer. He might make laws 
for others, but could not appeal to them for his own 
protection. This Gilbertian state of things had attracted 
the attention of the friends of Israel abroad, and for many 
years successive representatives of Great Britain and of 
other Western Powers at Belgrade, spurred by the Jewish 
charitable associations, had endeavoured to induce the 
Servians to grant to the Jews the necessaries, as well as 
the luxuries, of existence. In 1875 the Servians, no longer 
able to resist the pressure of Europe, proceeded to show 
their liberality by electing a Jew to the Skuptchina. But 
the European Powers declined to be deluded by this 
clever display of legerdemain. Our own Foreign Office, 
besides steps taken directly at Belgrade, made an effort to 
enlist Prince Bismarck's and Prince Gortchakoff's power- 
ful influence on behalf of the Servian Israelites. The 
effort was, of course, unsuccessful. The German Chan- 
cellor cared nothing for the Jews, and his Russian 
colleague less than nothing. 1 

Meanwhile similar remonstrances were made, and 
similar results obtained, at Bucharest, until the Congress 

1 H. Sutherland Edwards, Sir William White : His Life and Correspon- 
dence, p. 84. 


of Berlin in 1878 afforded the champions of the Jews and 
justice an opportunity of forcing upon the Roumanians 
the counsels of toleration to which they had hitherto 
refused to listen. 1 Among these champions none was 
more staunch than Lord Beaconsfield. It was the one 
subject on which the Commander of the Tories out- 
whigged the most advanced of Whigs. Even Gladstone 
in the most radical period of his career pronounced 
Disraeli on the Jewish Question "much more than 
rational, he was fanatical."" 2 Though baptized at the age 
of twelve, Disraeli remained a genuine and loyal son of 
Israel. While as a British statesman of a certain school 
he opposed Gladstone's campaign on behalf of the Eastern 
Christians in 1876, as a Jew he was working heart and 
soul on behalf of the Eastern Jews. He also was con- 
sistent. By the aid of M. Waddington, the French 
Delegate at the Congress of Berlin, and his own diplomatic 
adroitness, Disraeli succeeded in gaining over Prince 
Bismarck and, through him, in overcoming the good 
Emperor William's conscientious scruples about the pro- 
priety of treating Eastern Jews as if they were Christians. 
And so it came to pass that by Art. 44 of the Treaty of 
Berlin the recognition of Roumanian Independence was 
made conditional upon the abolition of all religious dis- 
abilities in the Danubian principalities. 

What followed might have supplied valuable material 
to Aristophanes. To the stipulation of the Treaty the 
Roumanians returned the astounding answer that " there 
was no such thing as a Roumanian Jew." This calm 
denial of the existence of more than a quarter of a million 
of human beings failed to satisfy the signatories to the 
Treaty. Thereupon the Roumanians lifted up their 
voices and, with remarkable lack of sense of the ludicrous, 
protested against the " iniquity " of being forced to admit 
the Jews to the rights of Roumanian citizenship, solemnly 
declaring that the Russian or even the Turkish yoke was 
preferable to this grievous condition. The chief reasons 

1 Ibid. See also a summary of this period under title "The Jews 
in Roumania" in The Standard, Sept. 30, 1902. 

2 J. Morley, Life of W. E. Gladstone, Vol. iii. p. 475 (1891). 


brought forward by Roumanian politicians in justification 
of their attitude in 1878, and since that date re-echoed 
even in this country by apologists of Roumanian bigotry, 
were based upon grounds of national sentimentality. It 
was urged that it is contrary to Roumanian traditions to 
admit to political equality any one who is not of pure 
Roumanian blood; that the preservation of the purity 
of their race has ever been the chief concern of the 
Roumanians; and that the accident of being born on 
Roumanian soil does not constitute a title to the status 
of Roumanian citizenship. 

Now, apart from the facts that the ancestors of many 
Roumanian Jews have been in the country for ages, and 
that many of their descendants have fought gallantly for 
Roumania's freedom, the "purity of race," on which 
Roumanian patriots are so fond of dwelling, is as pure a 
myth as any to be found in the collection of legends that 
still passes for history in the Balkan Peninsula. In 
the first place, the very origin of the Roumanians is 
surrounded by a denser cloud of mist than that which 
usually surrounds the origin of nations. That their 
language is akin to Latin is no more certain proof of the 
Roman descent which they claim than is the parallel 
kinship of Spanish, Portuguese, and French to the tongue 
of ancient Rome a proof of the Latin origin of the modern 
Spaniards, Portuguese, and Frenchmen. But, even grant- 
ing that Rome is, to use the phrase of a recent Roumanian 
Minister, " le berceau de leur race," the original nucleus 
of Roman colonists has undergone in the course of ages 
such matrimonial vicissitudes as must have caused the 
blood to lose a considerable portion of its primitive 
" purity." The Roman settlers found the country already 
peopled by an alien race. Ovid, banished by Augustus to 
Tomi on the Black Sea — near the modern town of 
Kustendje — describes the district as one inhabited by 
17 a.d. savages. All his letters from the country during his ten 
years' exile are one long lament over his hard fate. He 
dwells again and again on the bitterness of the lot which 
has cast him among people who do not understand Latin, 
he expresses the fear that he will gradually forget his own 


tongue, and his whole correspondence is an alternate wail 
on the horrors of barbarous warfare and the hardships of 
barbarous life. 

Towards the end of the first century Trajan con- 
quered Dacia, the modern Wallachia, and, in pursuance 
of the old Roman policy, the conquerors endea- 
voured to confirm their hold upon the country by the 
settlement of Latin colonists and by the introduction 
of the Latin language. The Latinisation of Dacia was, 
however, interrupted by the invasion of the Goths, a 250 a.d. 
warlike horde lured by the prospect of reaping where the 
peaceful peasantry of Dacia had sown under the protection 
of the Roman eagles. They met with no opposition in 
the newly and imperfectly settled province ; and this 
absence of opposition is the best proof of the precarious 
nature of the Roman rule and of the paucity of the 
Roman settlers. Twenty years later the Emperor Aurelian, 
convinced of the impossibility of holding the country, 
relinquished it to the Goths and Vandals. Upon the 
evacuation of Dacia most of the Roman subjects crossed 
the Danube and settled in the region stretching from the 
river's southern bank, and then was formed the new 
Dacia which corresponds to modern Bulgaria. The old 
country of the same name on the northern bank of the 
Danube retained, it is true, a great number of its inhabi- 
tants, but the mere fact of their consenting to serve 
a Gothic master, when the option to remain under 
Roman rule was open to them, shows how feeble the 
Roman element must have been among them. This 
population was gradually blended with the dominant 
Gothic tribe, and there was formed an independent state 
inhabited by a mixed race which, characteristically enough, 
claimed the renown of a Scandinavian origin, or descent 
from the old indigenous " savage Getae " whom Ovid has 
immortalised in his Pontic Epistles. Interest promoted 
peaceful relations, and even alliance, with the Roman 
Empire, and thus the Roman language continued to be 
heard on the northern bank of the Danube. 

Yet another hundred years have passed by, and a new 
horde of barbarians, even more fierce and monstrous, 


overthrew the power of the Goths, who in abject terror 
implored the Emperor Valens to permit them to cross 

375 A - D - the river and settle in Thrace. Valens, hoping to ensure 
the stability of his Empire by enlisting the services of 
new and hardy subjects, granted the request of the 
Goths, though not without hesitation and misgivings. 
The barbarians crossed the Danube to find themselves 
compelled to part with their arms and their children. 
This harsh demand, justified though it may have been 

> as a precautionary measure, excited the indignation of 

the immigrants, who tried to force a passage in defiance 
of the Roman legions. The latter met violence with 
violence, until an Imperial order reached them to 
transport the new-comers across the river. The passage 
was stormy, and many were drowned, but there survived 
a number sufficient to rout the Imperial troops and to 
turn the Eastern Empire into a field of massacre, 
rapine, and ruin. 1 

Such are the titles upon which the modern Roumanians 
have always based their claims to a Roman pedigree. 
First, it is to be observed that the term Roumanian 
includes not only the inhabitants of Wallachia, the ancient 
Dacia, occupied for a while by the Roman legions, but also 
the inhabitants of Moldavia, over whom the Roman never 
bore sway. Secondly, even in Dacia, how many of the 
original Romans were there left after the double evacua- 
tion and conquest of the province ? Nor did matters 
improve after the fourth century. Roumania is the 
highway over which, during the last fifteen hundred 
years, wave after wave of Goth, Hun, Avar, Slav, and 
Bulgar has poured on its southward course; and it 
must be a truly extraordinary flood that leaves no allu- 
vial deposit behind it. If to these inundations be 
added the Greek element which, though never very 
numerous, exercised a powerful influence over the 
country during the Ottoman domination, it would 
need exceptionally robust faith to uphold the purity 

1 The story is related at length by Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire, Ch. xxvi. 


In fact, the quantity of foreign blood in Roumania is 
amply attested by the features of the modern Roumanian 
peasant and by the Roumanian language itself. This 
language, besides a large admixture of Slavonic words 
and idioms which the professors of Bucharest have been 
earnestly endeavouring to eliminate, is phonetically very 
closely related to the Slavonic dialects of the neighbour- 
hood, and until two generations ago was actually written 
in Slavonic characters. It was about 1848 — the annus 
mirabilis of Continental Nationalism — that the Latin 
alphabet was introduced, but, despite the strenuous 
exertions of patriotic pedants, even this alphabet had 
to be modified so as to meet the phonetic requirements 
of non-Latin throats, 1 and the feat has been accomplished, 
clumsily enough, by a profusion of accents and other 
accessories more or less picturesque and bewildering. The 
very family names of the Roumanians, when not artifici- 
ally brought into harmony with modern academic senti- 
ment, reveal a non-Latin origin. Those of the peasantry 
are frequently Slavonic, while those of the nobility are 
not infrequently Greek. Yet the purists banished the 
Slavonic element from the dictionary of the Roumanian 
language compiled under the auspices of the Roumanian 
Academy by two native Latinists. Take, again, Rou- 
manian folk-lore. Any one who has given the subject 
even superficial attention can see at a glance the deep 
impress of Slavonic thought and custom in the legends 
and superstitions of the Roumanian peasantry. Yet, such 
are the sublime effects of racial fanaticism, when a few 
years ago a competition was instituted at Bucharest for 
the best comparative study of the national folk-lore, 
the work on which the prize was bestowed did not 
contain a single allusion to the folk-lore of the adjacent 
Slavonic countries. 

Of course, these facts, ignored though they are by 
the Roumanians and their advocates, do not prevent a 
Roumanian from being a Roumanian, however much they 
may prevent him from being a Roman ; nay, one would 

1 One example will suffice. The peasant word for a convivial gather- 
ing is written sedatore, and pronounced shezetoare. 


be loth to grudge to natives of Moldo-Walkchia the 
pleasure of contemplating a long line of noble Latin 
ancestors, imaginary though it be, did they not make this 
harmless gratification of their vanity an excuse for depriv- 
ing other natives of Moldo-Wallachia of the very means 
of existence. Moreover, one may not unreasonably ask, 
in what way would the enfranchisement of the Jews impair 
the " purity " of the Roumanian race ? The Jews in 
other lands are often charged, and not unjustly, with 
aversion from intermarriage with the Gentiles. Indeed, 
the Roumanians themselves seem to feel the force of this 
objection, for they attempt to parry it by the argument 
that, should the Jews be admitted to the deliberations 
of the Roumanian Parliament, they would form a compact 
party of obstructionists — why, does not appear. A more 
probable result of such an admittance has recently been 
suggested by one of those very Jews who, although a 
Roumanian for many generations, although educated in 
Roumania's schools and imbued with Roumanian tradi- 
tions, has been compelled to leave his country, because 
that country — "the only country I knew and, God 
knows, loved with heart and soul, reckoned me a 
'foreigner' and as such deprived me of the chance of 
earning a livelihood." This exile declares: "Were the 
treaty of Berlin lived up to, and the Jews given 
emancipation, they, being all literate and city-dwellers, 
would, according to the provisions of the electoral 
law, belong to either the first or the second electoral 
college, and would therefore either share the privileges 
of the present privileged class, whose number exactly 
equals that of the resident Jews, and share its power, 
or would compel that privileged class to give up its 
privileges and change the laws so as to give the great 
mass of people a voice in the running of their public 
aftairs." 1 

When the dialecticians of Bucharest realised that their 
ingenuity produced no impression upon the blunt minds 
of Western statesmen, they changed their tactics. A com- 

1 Alexander A. Landesco, in The Century Magazine, May, 1906, 
p. 160. 


mission of deputies was appointed to investigate and report 
on the question of Jewish disabilities. The commissioners' 
report began with the subtle distinction between "Rou- 
manian Jews " and " native Jews," declaring that only 
the latter variety was in existence, and adding that these 
Jews, though born in the country, were really aliens. As 
such, they might obtain naturalisation, if they applied for 
it individually ; but the boon could only be granted by a 
special Act, passed for each particular case. This revision 
was effected by the simple alteration of Art. 7 of the 
Roumanian Constitution, which had hitherto restricted the 
right of naturalisation to " foreigners of Christian denomi- 
nations," into one embracing all " foreigners " alike, 
without distinction of creed, who had lived for ten 
years in the country. 

By this generous concession the Roumanians claimed, 
and their apologists have innocently endorsed the claim, 
that they did as much as could fairly be expected from 
them. The illusory and disingenuous nature of the con- 
cession was patent to all, and the friends of the Jews were 
quick and emphatic in pointing it out to the Western 
Cabinets. But the Western Cabinets had by this time 
begun to think that they had done enough for Israel. 
Some of the Powers, like Germany, were anxious to 
conciliate Roumania in order to obtain a railway con- 
cession. Others, like England, were equally anxious 
to secure commercial advantages, while they one and all 
were cordially tired of the tedious and unremunerative 
crusade on behalf of justice. Lord Salisbury, in author- 1880 
ising the British representative to announce to the 
Bucharest Government the glad news that they could 
henceforth regard their country as a sovereign state, 
timidly expressed a hope, on behalf of England and 
France, that, in return for the Powers' forbearance, 
Roumania, by a liberal application of the revised article 
of the Constitution, would bring matters " into exact 
conformity with the spirit of the Treaty of Berlin." 
Thus the East once more succeeded in the time-honoured 
method of conquering by sheer inertia, and by dividing 
the Western Powers through their separate interests; 


and the Jews were left to float or founder according 
to the decrees of Fate. They did not float. 

The Roumanians, through the alteration in the letter of 
their Constitution, by which the Jews were no longer 
excluded from the franchise as non-Christians but as non- 
Roumanians, had nominally placed them on a par with 
other aliens — Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, and 
Italians — and, having done this, they professed intense 
astonishment that the Jews, alone among foreigners, con- 
tinued to clamour for civil and political rights. Yet the 
reason of their obstinacy is not far to seek. The subjects 
of England, France, Germany, and Italy are quite content 
with their status, for they would gain nothing by enrolling 
themselves as Roumanian citizens. Their nationality 
affords them ample protection against injustice, while the 
wretched Jews, whose cause France and England had 
pleaded in vain, if they are not Roumanian citizens, 
are citizens of no city. They have no Government 
to which they might appeal in an hour of need. 
Furthermore, it was feared from the very first that the 
cumbrous machinery of individual naturalisation would 
be put in motion as rarely as possible, and experience has 
more than confirmed those fears. During the twenty- 
four years which elapsed between the Treaty of Berlin and 
1902, very few live Jews were granted the franchise. 
For the posthumous naturalisation of the six hundred who 
had fallen in battle fighting for the freedom of Roumania, 
and that of two hundred more, admitted at the same time, 
was an exceptional act of liberality which has created no 
precedent. From 1878 to 1888, out of 4000 applications 
only thirty were granted, and since that date fifty more, 
bringing up the whole number to a grand total of eighty. 1 

During the same period the disabilities, under which the 
hapless race was suffered to remain labouring, have grown 
almost incredible in their severity, and have eclipsed the 
grievances which the Treaty of Berlin so unsuccessfully 
attempted to remove. Those grievances already amounted 
to oppression. The Jews were obliged to serve in the 
army as their Christian fellow-countrymen, and to pay the 
1 The Vienna correspondent of The Times, June 10, 1902. 


same taxes; and yet, though burdened with the same 
duties, they were denied equal rights. They were made 
to assist in the defence of a country which they were for- 
bidden to call their own, and to contribute to the 
expenditure of a Government whose actions they had no 
voice in controlling. But, at all events, they were allowed 
the privilege of earning a livelihood. Since that time all 
the weight of Roumanian legislation and popular fanaticism 
has been brought to bear upon one object — the extinction 
of the Jewish race in the kingdom. 

As an example of this systematic persecution may be 
mentioned the law of 1885, excluding the Jews from the 
trade in liquor, which had been open to them since 
1 849. This arbitrary act was justified by the argument 
that the Jews were fostering the vice of intoxication among 
the peasants. But the law has not lessened the consump- 
tion of liquor by a single drop. The Roumanian peasant 
still drinks as much as he drank before. Nor does the 
fact that his drink now comes from a Christian instead of 
a Hebrew source seem to produce any difference in its 
effects. The truth is that the Roumanian peasant is one 
of the most thirsty in the world, occupying as he does the 
third place in the scale of universal bibulosity. The 
brandy bottle is his companion in joy, and ever present 
comforter in sorrow. At weddings, as at funerals, brandy 
is an honoured guest. On holidays it enhances the 
merriment, and on week-days it relieves the monotony of 
work. To the brandy bottle, as to an infallible counsellor, 
the Roumanian peasant still appeals at times of taxation 
or any other domestic calamity. 

Among such calamities the greatest and most frequent 
is famine ; for, though Roumania is, next to Russia, the 
principal grain-exporting country in Europe, the Rou- 
manian agriculturist, like his Russian neighbour, and 
for similar reasons, is one of the most favourite victims 
of hunger. " It sometimes happens," says the Queen 
of Roumania, " that in one year the soil yields enormously, 
and in the succeeding year, owing to a failure of the 
crops, we have famine. ... It is difficult for any but 
those who have seen it for themselves to imagine what 


a poor harvest means in a purely agricultural state. It 
is horrible. Hunger in its most appalling aspect stalks 
everywhere. . . . Picture fields that look like empty 
threshing-floors ; starving cattle, their bones starting 
through their flesh, browsing on the barren ground, 
and falling dead from sheer exhaustion ; men, women 
and children without so much as a handful of meal left 
to provide their meagre diet of * mamaliga.' " At such 
times " the taverns are far too much frequented ; it is 
one way of cheating an empty stomach." * 

It is, of course, undeniable, and the fact is attested 
by all those who have studied the question of temperance 
reform in any part of the world, that the supply tends 
to foster the demand. But no one has ever asserted 
that it creates it. Nor has it been demonstrated that 
temperance is promoted by the exclusion of one portion 
of the population from a trade which is open to all 

Other laws have been passed, forbidding the Jew to 
lend money to the Christian, and the Christian to be 
ruined by the Jew. The futility of such enactments, 
everywhere manifest, is nowhere more clearly proved than 
in Roumania. The boyards> impoverished by the extrava- 
gance which characterises the newly-emancipated and semi- 
civilised nobleman, still go to the money-lender. But the 
main object is achieved — to represent the Jew as corrupt- 
ing the wealthy, and as ruining the poor. It would 
perhaps have been wiser on the part of Roumanian 
legislators to try to reform their people instead of perse- 
cuting those who simply minister to its vices and exploit 
its follies. Eradicate the demand, and the supply will 
cease of its own accord, is a remedy not yet understood 
at Bucharest. Still primitive in their mental attitude, 
Roumanian politicians act on the principle ridiculed by 
the Eastern proverb : They beat the saddle when the 
beast is to blame. 

How far the Roumanian's misfortunes are to be traced 
to the Jew can be shown from the fact, established by 

1 Carmen Sylva, " The Jews in Roumania," The Century Magazine, 
March, 1906. 


statistics, that the number of Jews in the Balkan States, 
though the case is far different in other parts of the 
world, is in inverse ratio to the advanced condition of 
the general population. In Servia the Jews are barely- 
counted by the hundred (00.20), and so they are in 
Greece (00.34). In the latter country the race would be 
even more scarce, were it not that many shrewd and 
enterprising Greeks are tempted to emigrate to foreign 
countries. In Bulgaria also the Jews form an insignificant 
minority (00. 7 6). 1 In the kingdom of Greece they enjoy 
perfect freedom of worship and all the rights and privi- 
leges of Hellenic citizens. In the Principality of Bulgaria 
also they are treated on equal terms with the Christians. 
Why is it that in Roumania only they figure in their 
hundreds of thousands and are oppressed ? The answer 
is obvious. The Jews have become numerous in 
Roumania, where the degraded condition of the people 
offers the line of least resistance ; and the rulers of those 
countries fearing lest, if they do not protect their own 
compatriots from the competition of a superior race, the 
wealth and influence of the latter might increase to a 
dangerous extent, harass and handicap them by prohibitive 

However, the Jew's fecundity seems to be proof 
against any degree of persecution. In spite of all checks, 
the Jews in Roumania, as their forefathers in Egypt, 
" increased abundantly and multiplied, and the land was 
filled with them." The Roumanian legislators were, 
therefore, bound, in consistency with their own policy, 
" to deal wisely with them." And now ensued a literal 
repetition of the first chapter of the Book of Exodus. 
King Charles appears to be actuated by the same fears as 
those which dictated the policy of Pharaoh : " lest they 
multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out 
any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight 
against us, and so get them up out of the land." The 
experience of thousands of years has taught no lesson to 
Roumanian statesmen, and Jewish disabilities have kept 

x See statistics of population in the Jewish Tear Book for 1902-03. 
Cp. the Statesman s Tear Book for 1906. 


pace with the increase of the victims. At the present 
moment the Jews are excluded not only from the public 
service but also from the learned professions. They are 
allowed neither to own land nor even to till it in the 
capacity of hired labourers. Mere residence in a country 
district is a punishable offence, and when the Jew, driven 
from the open country, takes refuge in a city, most 
avenues to an honest living are studiously closed to him. 
He is permitted to engage in none but the lowest trades 
and handicrafts. Nay, even as journeymen artisans the 
Jews are not allowed to exceed the proportion of one to 
two Christians. Education is altogether forbidden to 
them. In addition to these and like restrictions, which 
doom Israel to perpetual penury and ignorance, these 
unfortunate Roumanians who cannot boast a tc Latin " 
pedigree are treated by their " Roman" fellow-country- 
men as pariahs. They are insulted and baited by high 
and low, without the slightest means of redress ; their 
social, as well as their political, status being literally more 
degraded than that of the gipsy ; and that will convey a 
sufficiently clear idea to those who know the feelings of 
loathing and horror which that unfortunate outcast 
inspires in the Roumanian peasant. In one word, the 
Roumanian Jews can only be described as bondsmen in 
their native land. 

In the Middle Ages the Synagogue, as well as the 
Church, indulged in various gruesome performances 
calculated to strike terror into the hearts of sinners. One 
of the varieties of the ban, book, and candle rite was also 
adopted by the Law Courts as a means of extracting 
evidence from unwilling witnesses. The Austrian news- 
papers, in the summer of 1902, published detailed 
accounts of a judicial torture of the kind, known as 
" Sacramentum more Judaico," revived by the modern 
Roumanians in cases where Jews are engaged in litigation 
with Christians. Without the least regard for his 
religious susceptibilities, the Roumanian Jew is obliged to 
go through all the ritual solemnity of a mock burial : his 
nails are cut, he is wound up in a shroud, placed into a 
coffin and then laid out, corpse-like, in the synagogue. 


The Rabbi, under the eyes of a congregation of revolted 
co-religionists and scornful unbelievers, pronounces an 
awful, comprehensive and minute malediction upon the 
Jewish plaintiff and his progeny, should he not speak 
the truth. The corpse repeats the imprecations after the 
Rabbi ; for if he declines to curse himself and his family 
he loses his case. 1 

At length, worn out by persecution and having aban- 
doned all hope of succour, the Jews of Roumania began 
to emigrate in considerable numbers. In the year 1900 
there was a great exodus ; but the stream was temporarily 
stemmed by the accession to power of M. Carp, from 
whose well-known liberality the would-be exiles anti- 
cipated a mitigation of their sufferings. They were 
disappointed. M. Carp's cabinet was short-lived, and 
its successor, instead of relieving rather aggravated the 
sorrows of Israel. Emigration was resumed and con- 
tinued on an ever-increasing scale. The Jews now began 
to leave the country by tens of thousands, on their way 
to England and America, assisted thereto by wealthy 
co-religionists abroad. 2 

The outpouring of this crowd of needy refugees into 
Austria was not calculated to please the inhabitants of that 
empire. Measures were taken to prevent any of them 
from seeking a permament home in the dominions of the 
Hapsburgs, and the police were charged, gently but 
firmly, to speed the unwelcome guests on their journey. 
When the funds, generously contributed for the purpose, 
fell short of the requirements of the travellers, the 
Austrian authorities hastened to send them back, and the 
Austrian newspapers begar to denounce the Government 
through whose tyranny these destitute Israelites were 
compelled to leave their native country. This protest 
elicited from the Roumanian Government one of its 
customary dementis. Those who had not hesitated to 
deny the very existence of " Roumanian Jews " could 

1 Report from Bucharest, published in the Pester Lloyd, see The 
Standard, Sept. 27, 1902. Cp. the article "Oath More Judaico" in the 
Jewish Encyclopedia, ix. p. 367. 

2 The Vienna correspondent of The Standard, Sept. 1 9, 1 902. 


have no difficulty in declaring that " There is absolutely 
no foundation for the malicious statement published by 
some foreign papers regarding a wholesale emigration of 
the Jews from Roumania." The statement was based 
" on a perversion of the new Roumanian Labour Law," 
and the Roumanian Government deprecated the publica- 
tion of such articles, " as they might call forth, as was the 
case years ago, an unhealthy excitement in the minds of 
the people." 1 

But, facts being more convincing than official denials, 
the exodus grew more alarming, because the forces to 
which it owed its origin continued in operation. The 
" Jewish Colonization Association " now came to the aid 
of the indigent exiles, and endeavoured to save them from 
additional suffering by preventing those who were not 
provided with the necessary passage money, or were not 
physically fit, from leaving their homes. 2 These wise 
measures restrained to a certain extent indiscriminate 
expatriation, but, as might have been foreseen, failed to 
check it entirely. The exodus continued, and the outcry 
against Roumania spread, for now the countries into 
which the undesirable current flowed were compelled by 
self-interest to do what they had hitherto vainly attempted 
to effect from a sense of philanthropy. 

America, the favourite haven of refuge for the fortune- 
seeker of every colour and clime, undertook the task of 
spokesman. The late Mr. Hay, Secretary of State, in 
September, 1902, through the representatives of the 
United States in the countries which took part in 
the Congress of Berlin, reminded the Governments 
of those countries of Art. 44 of the Treaty signed 
by them in 1878, urging them to bring home to 
Roumania her flagrant and persistent failure to fulfil the 
conditions on which she had obtained her independence. 
After a handsome tribute to the intellectual and moral 
qualities of the Jew, based on history and experience, the 
American Minister protested, on behalf of his country, 
against " the treatment to which the Jews of Roumania 

Neuter telegram, dated Bucharest, April 12, 1902. 
2 The Times, June 10, 1902. 


are subjected, not alone because it has unimpeachable 
ground to remonstrate against resultant injury to itself, 
but in the name of humanity." He concluded with a 
vigorous appeal to " the principles of International Law 
and eternal justice," and with an offer to lend the moral 
support of the United States to any effort made to 
enforce respect for the Treaty of Berlin. 1 

This powerful impeachment, coming as it did from a 
distant party in no way connected with the affairs of 
Continental Europe, may have caused heart-searchings in 
nearer and more immediately concerned countries ; but it 
failed to awaken those countries to a proper sense of their 
interests, not to say duties. The only quarter in which 
America's appeal to humanity found an echo was England. 
A number of representative men, such as the late Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, the present Bishop of London, 
Lord Kelvin, the Marquess of Ripon, the late Mr. Lecky, 
Sir Charles Dilke, the Master of Balliol, and others, 
publicly expressed their profound sympathy with the 
victims of persecution. Mr. Chamberlain also seized the 
opportunity of declaring that, as history proves, the Jews, 
"while preserving with extraordinary tenacity their 
national characteristics and the tenets of their religion, 
have been amongst the most loyal subjects of the states 
in which they have found a home, and the impolicy of 
persecution in such a case is almost greater than its 
cruelty." 2 Other Englishmen also joined in the denun- 
ciation of Roumania not so much from pity for the 
victims of oppression as from fear lest, unless the 
Roumanian Government was compelled to change its 
policy, England should have to face another inroad of 
" undesirable " Jewish immigrants. 

In like manner, the only Government which volun- 
teered to second Mr. Hay's Note was the British, and 
on the common basis of these two representations, the 
signatory Powers of the Treaty of Berlin " exchanged 
views." The results of this exchange can be summed up 
only too easily. The historian of the future will probably 

1 Reuter telegram, dated Washington, Sept. 17, 1902. 
z The Standard, Sept. 23, 1902. 


derive therefrom some interesting lessons regarding 
European politics and ethics in the beginning of the 
twentieth century. They are as follows : 

Germany, under whose presidency the stipulation con- 
cerning the Jews of Roumania was framed, did not choose 
to consider herself called upon to insist on the execution 
of that stipulation. The Liberal section of the German 
press received the American Note with sincere, but 
ineffectual, appreciation; while of the Conservative 
majority some pronounced it na'ive, and others affected 
to regard it as an attempt on America's part to interfere 
in European affairs, or even as an electioneering trick 
having for its sole object to enhance President Roosevelt's 
political prestige ! The German Government, though 
more courteous than the German press, proved equally 
cold. As we have already seen, that Government was the 
last to join in the efforts to improve the lot of the 
Roumanian Jews and the first to declare itself satisfied 
with the deceptive revision of Article 7 of the Roumanian 
Constitution. This attitude, when considered in con- 
junction with the fact that a Hohenzollern reigns in 
Roumania, and with that kingdom's place in the present 
political combinations of the Continent, enables us to 
understand, if not to applaud, Germany's reception of 
Mr. Hay's Note. 

Austria-Hungary, whose proximity to Roumania pointed 
her out as the Power primarily concerned, and entitled to 
act, declined to take any steps singly or collectively. The 
self-restraint of Austria, like that of Germany, and even 
in a greater degree, was dictated by political considerations, 
Roumania being practically the only State in the Balkans, 
where the influence of Austria-Hungary and of the Triple 
Alliance still counts for something. Besides, the Vienna 
Cabinet could not decently join in advocating Jewish 
emancipation, for it was Austria which in May, 1887, 
concluded with Roumania a treaty whereby some seventy 
thousand Jewish residents in the latter kingdom — who, 
according to a practice common in Mohammedan 
countries, had enjoyed Austrian protection while Rou- 
mania was under Ottoman rule — were deprived of the 


status of Austrian subjects, without receiving any other 
status in exchange. 

Italy was deterred from lending her support to the 
American Note by Roumania's relations with the Triple 
Alliance and also by the vogue which the " Roman " idea 
obtains in the land which the Roumanians are pleased to 
regard as " the cradle of their race." 

Russia, whose treatment of her own Jewish subjects 
would have made an appeal to "humanity and eternal 
justice " on behalf of the Jews in another country a sad 
mockery, decorously refrained from supporting the 
American Note. It is true that the Russian press imitated 
the Teutonic in scoffing at America's action as a pretext 
for gaining admission to the counsels of the European 
Areopagus, and in condemning it as an impertinence ! 
But the Czar's Government, with better taste, extricated 
itself from an awkward position by basing its refusal on 
the ground that the grievances set forth in Mr. Hay's 
despatch were so old that it was hardly worth while 
troubling about them. In the opinion of the Russian 
Ministers, the Jews must by now be thoroughly 
accustomed to starvation. 

France, with all the good intentions in the world, could 
do nothing without Russia's consent and, therefore, con- 
tented herself with the expression of a modest hope that 
the Roumanian Government might of their own accord 
decide to fulfil their obligations, seeing that the real 
sufferer is Roumania itself, and with pointing to the lack 
of means of enforcing such fulfilment. 1 

In brief, the European Powers considered that they did 
their duty by expressing their platonic concurrence with 
that part of the American Note which referred to the 
obligations of humanity and civilisation generally. But 
to the more definite appeal to the Treaty of Berlin they 
refused to pay any attention whatsoever. Nor can we 
wonder at their refusal. The appeal was not a very 

1 The attitude of the various Powers is described at length by the 
correspondents of the London Press in their respective capitals. See 
Standard, Sept. 20, 25, 26 ; Morning Post, Sept. 20 ; Daily Chronicle, 
Sept. 22, etc. 

2 c 


happy one; for every party to that contract has con- 
scientiously broken it in turn. Russia, in defiance of its 
provisions, has fortified Batoum; Turkey has not even 
attempted to carry out the reforms in the European 
Provinces of the Empire, ordained by the Treaty ; Great 
Britain has done nothing for the Armenians. Why then 
should poor Roumania alone be called upon to carry out 
her share of an agreement, already disregarded with 
impunity by everyone else concerned? 

Such a retort would, of course, have been too candid 
and too rational for diplomacy. Instead, the Roumanian 
Government had again recourse to the more correct, 
if somewhat hackneyed, expedient of an official con- 
tradiction of the truth. The Roumanian Minister in 
London declared that "the idea that any persecution 
existed was absolutely erroneous." The Jews were 
foreigners, and "the disabilities imposed upon foreigners 
were absolutely necessary for the protection of his 
countrymen, who had bought their independence with 
the sword, and had a right to manage their economic 
affairs according to their requirements, etc., etc." 1 
What the Roumanian conception of such a right is 
has been very eloquently explained by Roumania's 
accomplished Queen. After having drawn a pitiful and, 
although exaggerated, in the main faithful picture of 
Roumania's economic misery, Her Majesty declares that, 
under such conditions, the civilised world ought not " to 
require her to harbour and support others, when she 
herself stands in dire need of assistance." Those 
" others " are " foreigners," that is, Roumanian Jews ; 
their exodus is represented as the voluntary emigration 
of "a foreign population" due to the instinct which 
prompts a rat to quit a sinking ship, and their 
departure is welcome, because they, being traders, drain 
the country of its wealth. This interesting economic 
doctrine is expounded by Her Majesty as follows : " It 
is a fact that no money has ever been introduced into 
Roumania through any one in trade. Any that such 
a man may possess goes abroad, first to purchase his 
x The Daily Chronicle, September 29, 1902. 


stock and outfit, and later for supplies to carry on his 
business, even such articles as buttons and the commonest 
kinds of braids not being manufactured here except on 
the very smallest scale." 1 Here again the Jewish 
apologist is more convincing than his Roumanian 
accuser. Admitting that, on the whole, the Queen's 
statements are correct, he asks : " But why is it so ? 
For the reason that the ruling class prohibits ' foreigners * 
to acquire lands in the country, and by means of this and 
other laws keeps foreign capital from coming in." 2 

Protests pass away, grievances remain. The well- 
meant action of Mr. Hay and Lord Lansdowne, far 
from bettering, really aggravated the condition of the 
people on whose behalf it was taken. The Roumanian 
politicians, with characteristic astuteness, perceived that 
the immediate cause of the complaint was the emigration 
of the Jews to the United States, England and Canada, 
and, naturally enough, arrived at the conclusion that the 
one thing needful was to remove the ground of complaint 
by stopping emigration. A telegraphic order was sent to 
all the local authorities, forbidding the issue of passports 
to the Jews. Those who had already reached the frontier 
were forcibly turned back, and hundreds of others, who 
had sold all they possessed in order to raise the funds 
necessary for the journey, were compelled to return home 
and perish. 3 Thus an act intended as a blessing proved an 
unmitigated curse, and modern Roumania by this new 
measure has outstripped even mediaeval Spain in cruelty. 
For the Spanish sovereigns, blinded by religious bigotry, 
had yet given to the Jews the alternatives of conversion 
or exile. Their Roumanian imitators, infatuated by 
racial fanaticism, will not baptize the Jews, nor dare they 
banish them ; but, like Pharaoh of old, they virtually bid 
them stay and be slaves. 

1 Carmen Sylva, " The Jews in Roumania," The Century Magazine, 
March, 1906. 

2 Alexander A. Landesco, The Century Magazine., May, 1906, p. 160. 

3 The Vienna correspondent of the Standard, Sept. 26, 1902. 



We have followed the fortunes of the Jewish people from 
the moment of its first contact with the nations of the 
West to the last quarter of the nineteenth century. We 
have seen that this contact was from the beginning 
marked by mutual antipathy, enfeebled at times, invigo- 
rated at others, always present. Some Jewish writers 
have endeavoured to show that the hatred of the Gentile 
towards the Jew in the Middle Ages was an artificial 
creation due entirely to the efforts of the Catholic 
Church ; that it flowed from above, and that the masses 
of Christendom, when not incited by the classes, were 
most amicably disposed towards Israel. This view is 
hardly tenable. It is inconceivable that the Church, or 
any other authority, could have succeeded so well in 
kindling the conflagrations which we have witnessed, if 
the fuel were not ready to be kindled. It is also a view 
contrary to the recorded facts. We have seen in the 
earlier Middle Ages popular prejudice spontaneously 
manifesting itself in the insults and injuries which were 
heaped upon the Jews, and restrained with difficulty by 
the princes and prelates of Europe. In the time of the 
Crusades also it was not St. Bernard who fanned the 
fury of the mob against the Jews of the Rhine, but 
an obscure monk. The exhortations of the saint were 
disregarded ; but the harangues of the fanatic found an 
eager audience, simply because they were in accord with 
popular feeling. During the same period bishops and 
burgomasters strove to save the victims, in vain. 

Again, the persecution of the Spanish Jews in the 


fifteenth century would never have attained the dimensions 
which it did attain, were it not for the deep-rooted 
animosity which the bulk of the Spanish people nourished 
against them. Castile was then the home of chivalry and 
charity. The pretensions of the Pope to interfere in the 
affairs of the kingdom had met with scornful opposition 
on the part of the Castilian nobles. Three centuries 
before an Aragonese monarch had given away his life in 
defence of the persecuted heretics of Provence. Less 
than two centuries before Aragon was one of the few 
countries that refused to comply with the joint request of 
Philip the Fair of France and Pope Clement V. to perse- 
cute the Knights Templars. At the time when the 
Inquisition was established in Spain both Castile and 
Aragon were hailing the revival of culture. Under 
Ferdinand and Isabella, as well as in the subsequent reigns, 
the Castilians and the Aragonese vigorously resisted an 
institution so contrary to the principles of freedom dear 
to them. Nor was in Spain the danger of dissension 
sufficiently great to justify recourse to so terrible an 
instrument of concord. The Spaniards less than any 
other people had reason to sacrifice liberty of conscience 
for the sake of political conquest. It is, therefore, highly 
improbable that the Holy Office would ever have gained 
a firm footing in Spain, but for the fact that its way was 
paved by the popular prejudice against the Jews and the 
Moors, and its success assured by the persecution of those 
races. Though the Spaniards hated the Inquisition 
bitterly, they hated the Semites more bitterly still ; and 
of the two the Jew more bitterly than the Moor. 

We have also seen that neither the Renaissance nor the 
Reformation, both movements directly or indirectly 
hostile to the Church, brought any amelioration to the 
lot of the Jew. In every country Jew-hatred existed 
as the product of other than ecclesiastical influences. 
Here and there, under exceptionally favourable conditions, 
the Jews may have been tolerated ; they were not loved. 
This negative attitude was liable to be at any moment 
converted into active hostility. All that the Church 
did was to turn the feeling to account, to intensify 


and to sanctify it. Lastly, we have seen that the 
emancipation of the Jews did not come about until the 
end of the eighteenth and the middle of the nineteenth 
century — a period no longer of protest against the Church, 
but one of rebellion against all the prejudices of all the 
ages. It was not until the gospel of humanity, in its 
broadest sense, was accepted that the secular clamour 
against the Jewish portion of the human race was silenced ; 
and even then not without difficulty. But, though the 
plant of anti- Judaism was cut at the root, the root 
remained, and it was destined in our own day to put 
forth a new shoot. 

Writers have expended much ingenuity in defining the 
origin and the nature of modern anti-Semitism. Some 
regard it as a resuscitation of mediaeval religious bigotry ; 
others as the latest manifestation of the old struggle 
between Europe and Asia ; a third school, rejecting both 
those theories, interprets it as a purely political question 
arising from the social and economic conditions created 
by the emancipation of the Jews ; while a fourth sect have 
attempted to show that the modern revival is " the fruit 
of a great ethnographical and political error." Those who 
see in anti-Semitism nothing but a revival of mediaeval 
religious rancour ignore the conflict between Jew and 
Gentile before the rise of the Mediaeval Church, or even 
before the rise of Christianity. Those who explain it as a 
purely racial struggle forget the Crusades and the Inquisi- 
tion and the superstitious horror of usury. Those who 
interpret it simply as a question of modern European 
politics disregard both those periods of history. Finally, 
whatever may be said of crude ethnographical theories 
and of nebulous nationalist creeds, it would be doing them 
too much honour to suppose that they are the real causes 
of anti-Semitism. Men do not slaughter their fellow- 
men for the mere sake of an abstract hypothesis, though 
priests may. All these things do nothing but give a 
name and a watchword to a movement born of far less 
ethereal parents. In our day the political activity which 
has used anti-Semitism as an instrument has only done 
what clerical activity had done in the past. It has availed 


itself of a force not of its own creation. The fact is that 
every human action is the result of manifold motives. 
The complexity of the motives is not diminished by the 
multitude of the actors. There is a strong temptation to 
simplify matters by singling out one of those motives and 
ignoring the rest- But, though truth is always simple, 
simplicity need not always be true. There may be new 
things under the sun. Anti-Semitism, however, is not 
one of them. Its roots lie deep in the past. 

Viewed, then, in the light of two thousand years' 
recorded experience, modern anti-Semitism appears to be 
neither religious, nor racial, nor economical in its origin 
and character. It is all three, and something more. We 
find in it all the motives which led to the persecution of 
the Jews in the past. In antiquity the struggle was chiefly 
due to racial antagonism, in the Middle Ages chiefly to 
religious antagonism, in the nineteenth century we might 
expect it to assume chiefly a nationalist garb. But, as in 
antiquity religious antipathy was blended with racial 
hatred, as in the Middle Ages economic rivalry accen- 
tuated religious bigotry, so in our time religious, racial, 
and economic reasons have contributed to the movement 
in various degrees according to the peculiar conditions, 
material and moral, prevailing in each country where 
anti-Semitism has found an echo. If it were possible 
to unite all these causes in one general principle, it would 
be this : every age has its own fashionable cult, which for 
the time being overshadows all other cults, gives a name 
to the age, explains its achievements, and extenuates its 
crimes. Every age has found in the Jew an uncompro- 
mising dissenter and a sacrificial victim. The cult par 
excellence of the nineteenth century is Nationalism. 

What is this dreadful Nationalism ? It is a reversion 
to a primitive type of patriotism — the narrow feeling which 
makes men regard all those who live in the same place, or 
who speak the same language, or who are supposed to be 
descended from a common ancestor, as brethren ; all others 
as foreigners and potential foes. This feeling in its crudest 
form is purely a family-feeling, in the worst sense of the 
term. It grows into a larger allegiance to the tribe, then 


to the race, and that in its turn develops into the broad 
patriotism which manifests itself now as Imperialism, 
now as Catholicism. 

There is yet a third form of patriotism — the purest and 
noblest of all : loyalty to common intellectual ideals. 
The Greeks attained to this lofty conception, and an 
Athenian orator, in enumerating his country's claims to 
the admiration of mankind, dwells with just pride on this 
product of its civilisation. Athens, he says, " has made 
the name of the Hellenes to be no longer a name of race, 
but one of mind, so that Hellenes should be called 
those who share in our culture rather than in our nature." 1 
Isocrates in making this statement, however, gave utter- 
ance to a dream of his own rather than to a feeling 
common among his countrymen. The Macedonian 
Empire strove to convert that philosophical dream into a 
political fact. Alexander and his successors studded Asia 
with Greek theatres, Greek schools, Greek gymnasia, and 
the East was covered with a veneer of pseudo-Hellenic 
civilisation. But their success was only partial, superficial 
and ephemeral. The intellectual unity could not go deep 
and therefore did not last long. The barriers — social, 
religious and racial — which separated the Hellene from 
the Barbarian proved insuperable ; and the Isocratean ideal 
of a nationality based on community of intellectual aims 
remained an ideal. Hellenism demanded a degree ot 
mental development to which mankind has never yet 
attained. Hence its failure as a political bond. This 
was not the case with Imperialism and Catholicism. They 
both appealed to more elementary and therefore less rare 
qualities in man. Hence their success. Rome achieved 
more than Greece because she aimed at less. 

The Roman Empire represented the first, the Roman 
Church the second variety of this broad patriotism. 
Civis Romanus was a title which united in a common 
allegiance the Italian and the Greek, the Jew and the 
Egyptian, the Spaniard, the Briton and the Gaul. 
Catholic Rome inherited the imperial feeling of Pagan 
Rome, but dressed it in a religious form. The dictator- 
1 Isocrates, Panegyr. 50. 



ship of the Caesars was divided between the Christian 
Emperor and the Pope: the former inheriting their 
political power, the latter the spiritual and moral. Charle- 
magne wielded the authority of an Imperator Romanus, 
his papal contemporary that of a Pontifex Maximus. 
Then came the decay and fall of the Carlovingian fabric ; 
and, gradually, the Papacy built up a spiritual empire 
with the debris of the secular. All Catholics were subjects 
of that Empire. In the Middle Ages Europe presented 
a picture of wonderful uniformity in sentiments, ideals, 
customs, political and social institutions. All countries, 
like so many coins issued from one mint, seemed 
to be cast in the same mould, stamped with the same 
effigy and adorned with the same legend. National con- 
sciousness was in the Middle Ages practically non-existent, 
or, if it did exist, in the later centuries, it was obscured 
by the religious sentiment. As in modern Islam we 
find Arabs, Persians, Indians, Malays, Chinese, Syrians, 
Egyptians, Berbers, Moors, Turks, Albanians — nations 
differing widely in origin and language — united by the 
ties of a common creed, so in mediaeval Christendom we 
find English, Scotch, French, Italian, German and Spanish 
knights all forming one vast brotherhood. The reader of 
Froissart cannot fail to notice this community of feeling 
and the marvellous ease with which gentlemen from all 
those nations made themselves at home in one another's 
countries. The chronicler himself, in his style and 
mental attitude, supplies a striking example of this cosmo- 
politanism. By the mediaeval Christian, as by the modern 
Mohammedan, the human race was divided into two halves : 
true believers and others. The universal acceptance of 
Latin as the medium of communication was another token 
and bond of brotherhood among the Christians of 
mediaeval Europe, as the use of Arabic, as a sacred 
tongue, is a token and a bond of brotherhood among the 
Mohammedans of the present day. 

This feeling of international patriotism, which found its 
highest development and expression in the Crusades, 
began to fade as soon as Catholic faith began to decay. 
Disintegration followed both in the Church and in the 


State. Loyalty to one ideal and to one authority was 
gradually superseded by local and later by racial 
patriotism. Various political units succeeded to the Unity 
of mediaeval Europe, the vernaculars ousted the Latin 
language from its position as the one vehicle of thought, 
and the old cosmopolitan universities of Paris and 
Bologna were replaced by national institutions. Since the 
fifteenth century nationalism has been growing steadily, 
but in the eighteenth its growth was to some extent 
checked by humanitarianism. The great thinkers of that 
age extolled the freedom and the perfection of the indi- 
vidual as the highest aim of culture, describing exclusive 
attachment to one's country and race as a characteristic 
of a comparatively barbarous state of society : a remnant 
of aboriginal ancestor-worship. Nationalism, accordingly, 
did not reach its adolescence until the nineteenth century. 
Then the zeal for peace was eclipsed by the splendour 
of the French exploits in war, and the doctrine of 
universal freedom was forgotten in Napoleon's efforts 
at universal dominion. These efforts aroused in every 
country which Napoleon attacked a passionate protest 
which resulted in successful revolt. But the triumph 
was won at a tremendous cost. Each nation in proportion 
to its sense of what was due to itself was oblivious of what 
was due to others. The principles of the brotherhood of 
men and of universal toleration were denied, the narrow 
jealousies of race which the philosophers of the preceding 
century had driven from the realm of culture were re- 
installed, and Nationalism — arrogant, intemperate, and 
intolerant — arose on the ruins of Humanitarianism. This 
evolution, or revolution, has added a new element in social 
troubles, and has brought into being a new set of ideas. 

For the last hundred years ethnographical theory has 
dominated the civilised world and its destinies as theo- 
logical dogma had done during the Middle Ages. Con- 
sciously or not, the idea of race directs the policy of 
nations, inspires their poetry, and tinges their philosophy 
with the same prejudice as religion did formerly. Aryan 
and non-Aryan have become terms conveying all but the 
odious connotation of Christian and infidel ; and in place 


of the spiritual we have adopted a scientific mythology. 
The fiction of our Aryan origin has flattered us into the 
benevolent belief of our mental superiority over the 
Mongol, and of our moral superiority over the Semite. 
To dispute this tenet is to commit sacrilege. But even 
within the bosom of this imaginary Aryan fold there are 
schisms : so-called Celtic, Germanic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, 
and Slavonic sects, divided against one another by the 
phantom barriers of ethnographical speculation as franti- 
cally as in older days Christendom was divided by the 
metaphysical figments of Arian, Manichaean, Nestorian, 
and what not. In the name of race are now done as many 
great deeds and as many great follies are committed as 
were once in the name of God. The worship of race has, 
as the worship of the Cross had done before, given birth 
to new Crusades which have equalled the old in the 
degree to which they have disturbed the peace and agitated 
the minds of men, and in the violence of the passions 
which they have excited. Nationalism more than any 
other cause has helped to bring discredit upon the 
principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity — to prove the 
eighteenth century dream of world-wide peace a glorious 
impossibility — and to show the enormous chasm which 
still gapes between the aspirations of a few thinkers 
and the instincts of the masses. 

Though common to all European countries, the creed 
of the age found articulate exposition first in Germany, 
and gave rise to various academic doctrines which 
attempted to account for the genesis and evolution of 
Nationalism in scientific or pseudo-scientific terms. But 
names do not alter facts. Ethnographical speculations are 
in this case mainly interesting as having supplied a 
plausible explanation for the rise of anti-Semitism. Those 
who are able to see through new guises, and to detect 
what old things they conceal, know that anti-Semitism 
is little more than a new Protean manifestation of 
Jew-hatred. Divested of its academic paraphernalia, the 
movement is revealed in all its venerable vulgarity — a 
hoary-headed abomination long since excommunicated 
by the conscience of civilised mankind. 


This reactionary movement began in Eastern Germany 
and Austria. In those countries the Jews are very 
numerous, 1 very wealthy, and very influential. Both 
countries are famous as hot-beds of racial fanaticism. In 
Germany Nationalism was begotten of the independence 
secured by the Thirty Years' War in the seventeenth 
century, was nursed by the patriotic preachers and poets of 
the eighteenth, was invigorated by the wars for emancipa- 
tion from Napoleon's rule, and was educated by Hegel 
and his disciples. The Jews in Germany, as elsewhere, 
are the one element which declines to be fused in the 
nationalist crucible. Their international connections help 
them to overstep the barriers of country. Their own 
racial consciousness, fostered by the same writers, is at 
least as intense as that of the Germans ; but it does not 
coincide with any geographical entity. They are, there- 
fore, regarded as a cosmopolitan tribe — "everywhere and 
nowhere at home." They are distinct not only as a race, 
but as a sect, and as a class. Accordingly, the reaction 
against tolerance includes in its ranks clerics and Christian 
Socialists, aristocrats, as well as Nationalists, that is, the 
enemies of dissent and the enemies of wealth, as well as 
the enemies of the alien and the enemies of the upstart. 
And the term " Jew " is used in a religious or a racial 
sense according to the speaker. In both Germany and 
Austria we saw that the philosophical gospel of social 
liberty was very slowly applied to practical politics, and 
that, even when it had been accepted, it was subject to 
reactions. When Jewish manumission was finally accom- 
plished, the Jews by their genius filled a much larger place 
in the sphere of national life than was deemed proportional 
to their numbers. And this undue preponderance, rendered 
all the easier by the superior cohesion of the Jewish over 
the German social system, was further accentuated by 

1 In Germany, out of a total population of 56,500,000, there are 
587,000 Jews, of whom 376,000 reside in Prussia. In Austria 
there are 1,150,000 out of a total population of 26,000,000, and in 
Hungary 850,000 out of a total population of 19,000,000. The 
percentage of Jews, therefore, is in Germany 01.04, ln Austria 04.80, 
in Hungary 04.43. — Jewish Tear-Book, 1902-03. 


specialisation. The Jews, whose training in Europe 
for centuries, owing partly to their own racial instincts 
and Rabbinical teaching, but chiefly to the conditions 
imposed upon them from outside, had been of a 
peculiar kind, showed these peculiarities by their choice 
of fields of activity. They abstained from the productive 
and concentrated their efforts to the intellectual, financial, 
and distributive industries of the countries of which they 
became enfranchised citizens. Jews flooded the Universi- 
ties, the Academies, the Medical Profession, the Civil 
Service, and the Bar. Many of the judges, and nearly 
one- half of the practising lawyers of Germany, are said to 
be Jews. Jews came forth as authors, journalists, and 
artists. Above all, Jews, thanks to the hereditary faculty 
for accumulation fostered in them during the long period 
when money-dealing was the one pursuit open to them, 
asserted themselves as financiers. It is impossible to 
move anywhere in Berlin or Vienna without seeing the 
name of Israel written in great letters of gold not only 
over the shops, but over the whole face of German life. 
Success awakened jealousy, and economic distress — due to 
entirely different causes — stimulated it. What if the 
competition was fair ? What if the Jews were distinguished 
by their peaceful and patriotic attitude? What if they 
supplied the least proportion of criminals and paupers ? 
What if German freedom had been bought partially with 
Jewish blood, and German unity achieved by the help 
of Jewish brains and Jewish money ? 

The landed gentry, richer in ancestors than in money or 
intelligence, had every reason to envy the Jew's wealth, 
and much reason to dislike the Jew's ostentatious display 
of it. They could not respect in the Jew a gifted arrive. 
They saw in him a vulgar parvenu — one who by his " sub- 
versive Mephistophelian endowment, brains," demolishes 
the fences of creed and caste, and invades the highest and 
most exclusive circles, thus acting as a solvent in society. 
If he is wise, the proud nobleman of narrow circumstances 
makes his pride compensate for his poverty, and magnani- 
mously despises the luxuries which he cannot procure. 
If, as more often happens, he is foolish, he enters into a 


rivalry of vanity with the upstart, and the result is a 
mortgaged estate — mortgaged most likely to his rival. 
In either case, he can have little love for the opulent and 
clever interloper. The animosity of the aristocracy is 
shared by the middle classes, and for analogous reasons. 
The German professional man, and more especially his 
wife, resents his Jewish colleague's comparative luxury as 
a personal affront. The excessive power of money in 
modern society, and the consequent diminution of the 
respect once paid to blood or learning, naturally enable 
the Jewish banker to succeed where the poor baron fails ; 
and the Jewish professor or doctor, though many of these 
latter are poor enough, to outshine his Christian com- 
petitor. This excessive power of money is due to causes 
far deeper than the enfranchisement of the Jews. It 
is the normal result of Germany's modern development. 
The influence of the nobles depended largely on their 
domains of land ; and when industries arose to compete 
with agriculture, the importance of land necessarily 
declined. At the same time, industry and commerce 
began, with Germany's expansion, to divert more and 
more the attention of the intelligent from the path of 
academic distinction — once the only path to honour 
open to the ambitious burgher — into that of material 
prosperity. Chrematistic enterprise has introduced a new 
social standard, and an aristocracy of wealth has come 
to supplant the old aristocracies of birth and erudition. 
This social revolution, through which every country in 
the world has passed and has to pass, was unhesitatingly 
ascribed to the Jew, who was thus accused of having 
created the conditions, which in reality he had only 

If from the aristocratic and the cultured classes we turn 
to the rural population, we find similar causes yielding 
similar results. In the German country districts it is 
objected to the Jews not cultivating the land themselves, 
but lying in wait for the failing farmer : cc Everywhere," 
says an authority, " the peasant proprietor hated the Jew," 
and he proceeds to sketch the peasant tragedy of which 
that hatred was the consequence. The land had to be 


mortgaged to pay family claims ; the owner had recourse to 
the ubiquitous and importunate money-lender ; the money- 
lender, whose business it is to trade upon the necessity of 
the borrower, took advantage of the latter' s distress, and 
extorted as much as he could. " The Jew grew fat as the 
Gentile got lean. A few bad harvests, cattle-plague, or 
potato-disease, and the wretched peasant, clinging with the 
unreasonable frantic love of a faithful animal to its habitat, 
had, in dumb agony, to see his farm sold up, his stock 
disposed of, and the acres he had toiled early and late 
to redeem, and watered by the sweat of his stubborn brow, 
knocked down by the Jewish interloper to the highest 
bidder." 1 In the Austrian country districts it is urged 
that the presence of the Jew is synonymous with misery ; 
his absence with comparative prosperity. In Hungary, 
the late M. Elisee Reclus — the famous author of the 
Nouvelle Geographie Universelle — informs us, "The rich 
magnate goes bankrupt, and it is almost always a Jew 
who acquires the encumbered property," and another 
witness adds: "The Jew is no less active in profiting 
by the vices and necessities of the peasant than by those 
of the noble." In Galicia, especially, we are told that 
the land is rapidly passing into the hands of the Jews, 
and that many a former proprietor is now reduced to 
work as a day-labourer in his own farm for the benefit 
of a Jewish master. All this is an absurdly exaggerated 
version of facts in themselves sad enough. The Jews 
as a whole are by no means a wealthy community, and 
the gainers by the supposed exploitation are the few, 
not the many. And if, as is the case, the condition 
of affairs in agricultural states is bad, who is to blame ? 
Wherever there is agrarian depression there are sure 
to be money-lenders enough and Shylocks too many. 
It does not appear that Christian money-lenders have 
ever been more tender-hearted than their Jewish confreres. 
Why then set down to the Jew, as a Jew, what is the 
common and inevitable attribute of his profession ? The 
ruin of the borrower does not justify the slaughter of the 

1 " The Jews in Germany," by the author of " German Home Life," 
The Contemporary Review, January, 1 88 1 . 


lender. Philanthropists would be better employed if, 
instead of bewailing in mournful diatribes the woes of the 
bankrupt peasant and inveighing against the cruelty of his 
oppressor, combined to establish agricultural banks where 
the farmer could obtain money at less exorbitant interest. 
This measure, and measures like this, not slaughter and 
senile lamentation, would be a remedy consonant both 
with the nature of the evil and with the dictates of civili- 
sation and justice. Until something of the sort is done, 
it is worse than futile to demand that dealers in money, 
any more than dealers in corn, cotton, or cheese, should 
work from altruistic motives. But nothing rational is 
ever attempted. Instead, everywhere the nobles ruined 
by their own improvidence and extravagance, the peasants 
by their rustic incompetence, and both by the exactions 
of a wasting militarism, complain of the extortion of the 
Jewish usurers. It was inevitable that the old-world 
monster of Jew-hatred, never really dead, should have 
raised its hoary head again. All the elements of an anti- 
Jewish movement were present. The only thing that 
lacked was opportunity. The deficiency was not long 
in being supplied. 

The Franco-German war and the achievement of 
German unity fanned the flame of patriotism. As in the 
time of Napoleon the First, so in that of Napoleon III., a 
great national danger created a strong fellow-feeling 
between the different members of the German race ; a 
great national triumph stirred up an enthusiasm for the 
Empire which was indulged in at the cost of individual 
liberty. Despotism throve on the exuberance of national- 
ism. The Germans were led back from the constitutional 
and democratic ideals of 1848 to an ultra-monarchic 
servility which made it possible for the present Kaiser's 
grandfather a few years after, prompted by Bismarck, to 
assert openly the ridiculous old claim to divine right. 
Thus the ground was prepared for any anti-alien and 
anti-liberal agitation. Other causes came to accelerate the 
movement. The war had involved enormous pecuniary 
and personal sacrifices. The extraordinary success, instead 
of satisfying, stimulated German ambition. It aroused 


an extravagant financial optimism and self-confidence. 
Germany, intoxicated with military victory, was still 
thirsting for aggrandisement of a different kind. 
Economy was cast to the winds, and a fever of wild 
speculation seized on all classes of the community. 
Companies were floated, and swallowed up the superfluous 
capital of the great as well as the savings of the humble. 
Sanguine expectation was the temper of the day. Berlin 
would vie with Paris in elegance and with London in 
suburban comfort, and every one of its citizens would 
be a millionaire ! 

Then came the terrible crash. The bubble burst, and 
the magnificent day-dreams were dispelled by misery. A 
succession of bad harvests, and the rapid increase in 
American corn competition, by impoverishing the agri- 
cultural class, added to the general depression. The 
disillusioned public wanted a victim whereupon to vent 
its wrath. Those who promoted the companies had to 
suffer for the folly of those who were ruined by their 
failure. A great many of the former, by selling out at 
the right moment, rose to affluence. The discontented 
public, naturally enough, noticing these large fortunes in 
the midst of the general wreck, jumped to the conclusion 
that the few had enriched themselves by robbing the 
many. "Exposures" followed, and among the impli- 
cated financiers there were found many Jews. It was then 
in order to fill Jewish pockets that the heroes of Germany 
had bled on the battlefield, and the burghers of Germany 
had been bled at home ! The nationalist ideal of 
Germany for the Germans, then, was to lead to a 
Germany for the Israelites ! All those trials had been 
endured and all those triumphs achieved in order to deliver 
up the Fatherland to an alien and infidel race — a race 
with which neither the intellect nor the heart of Germany 
has any affinity or sympathy ! This was the cry of 
anguish that succeeded to the paeans of self-glorification, 
and those nationalists who uttered these sentiments forgot 
that their very nationalism had been largely created and 
fostered by Jewish thinkers. They also forgot that it was 
a Jewish statesman, Lasker, who, at the cost of all 


personal and party interests and of his popularity, had 
alone had the courage to expose in the Prussian Chamber 
the evils of extravagant speculation, in 1873, and to 
urge both the public and the Government to turn 
back, while there was yet time, from the road to ruin 
which they pursued. But it has been well said : 
" Who would think of gratitude when a scapegoat is 
required ?" 

A tongue was given to the popular indignation in a 
pamphlet by an obscure German journalist, Wilhelm 
Marr by name, who seized the opportunity of attaining to 
fame and fortune by a plentiful effusion of his anti-Jewish 
venom. The work anathematized the Jews not only as 
blood-sucking leeches, but as enemies of the Germanic 
race, and as forming a distinct and self-centred solecism 
in German national life. The Coryphaeus was ably sup- 
ported by a crowd hitherto mute. The opponents of 
industrial and the opponents of religious liberalism, men 
of rank, men of letters, and high ecclesiastics joined in the 
chorus, and another "black day" (July 30, 1878) was 
added to the Jewish calendar. In Adolph Stocker, a 
Christian Socialist and court preacher, and a staunch 
Conservative in the Prussian Diet, the new crusade found 
its Peter the Hermit. He was the first man of position 
to preach from the pulpit and to declare in the press that 
Hebrew influence in the State was disastrous to the 
Christian section of the community, that Semitic pre- 
ponderance was fatal to the Teutonic race. As though 
the printing presses of Germany were only waiting for 
the signal, a whole library of anti-Semitic literature was 
rapidly produced, and as rapidly consumed. Some of the 
most popular journals opened their columns to the cam- 
paign, Jewish journalists opposed violence with violence, 
and the feud daily assumed larger dimensions, until by 
the end of 1879 it had spread and raged over the whole 
of the empire. 

" It is not right that the minority should rule over the 
majority," cried some. Others accused the Jews, loosely 
and without adducing any proofs, of forming a free- 
masonry and of always placing the interests of their 


brethren above those of the country. That there was 
some kind of systematic co-operation among the Jews 
seems probable. It is also probable that there was a 
certain degree of truth in the charge of " clandestine 
manipulation of the press " for the purpose of shield- 
ing even Jews unworthy of protection. But for this 
the Germans had only themselves to thank. By attack- 
ing the Jews as a tribe they stimulated the tribal feeling 
among them. The social isolation to which they con- 
demned the Jew intensified his gift of reciprocity. To 
the German Christians the Jew, however patriotic and 
unexceptionable he may be as a citizen, as a man is a Jew 
— an alien, an infidel, an upstart, a parasite. His genius 
is said to be purely utilitarian, his religion externally an 
observance of empty forms, essentially a worship of the 
golden calf, and worldly success his highest moral ideal. 
German professors analysed the Jewish mind and found 
it Semitic, German theologians sought for the Jewish soul 
and could find none. Both classes, agreeing in nothing 
else, concurred in denouncing the Jew as a sinister crea- 
ture, strangely wanting in spiritual qualities — a being 
whose whole existence, devoid of faith of any kind, 
revolves between his cash-book and the book of the Law. 
Perhaps the most remarkable consequence of all was 
the growth of an anti-Semitic school of exegesis of the 
Old Testament. 

These, then, were the grievances of the orthodox : the 
Jew's want of religious feeling. Free-thinkers denounced 
him for a superabundance of that very feeling. Stocker, 
with unctuous smartness, said, "the creed of the Jews 
stands on the blank page between the Old and the New 
Testament." Duhring ponderously objected to "the 
tenacity with which the inherited religious manner of 
viewing things is rooted in the Jewish mind." These 
charges, mutually exclusive though they were, were 
gladly espoused by those who only needed some theory 
whereby to dignify their spite. The Jew's own foibles — 
his arrogance and love of display — supplied that minimum 
of excuse which has ever been deemed sufficient for perse- 
cution. The Jews, said their accusers, hold in their 


hands the golden key which opens all doors, and flourish 
it insolently before their less fortunate neighbours. They 
have killed the ancient simplicity and frugality of German 
life by their ostentatious luxury, and corrupted German 
idealism by their inordinate pursuit of material comfort. 
German idealism has been killed by nationalism and 
militarism. But, of course, no German patriot can be 
expected to see this. What, however, surprises one is 
that it does not seem to have occurred to those who 
denounce the Jew as the promoter of materialism that 
they have the remedy in their own hands. Let them 
cease to worship mammon, and mammon's ministers will 
be discredited. As it is, they inveigh against the Jew 
for enjoying the very things which they themselves 
hunger after. In Germany, as elsewhere, Christian 
panegyrists of plain living and high thinking would 
perhaps like the Jewish millionaire better if they 
resembled him less. 

Prince Bismarck, in the prosecution of his great political 
object of a united Germany had courted the support of 
the Liberal party, which, on its side, was not unwilling to 
help a man who, no matter how anti-Liberal his domestic 
policy might be, was, in the main, the hierophant of the 
German nation's aspirations. Thus, in 1866, there came 
into being the National Liberal Party. Their position 
was, however, a false one, as their support of Bismarck 
and their Liberal tendencies could not be reconciled for 
a long time. But, while the alliance lasted, the Liberals 
were instrumental in introducing many legislative 
measures in the direction of progress, including certain 
reforms as to banking and commerce. These innova- 
tions gave offence to several classes of the population, 
and the fact that one of the leaders of the National 
Liberal Party, Lasker, and a great many of its mem- 
bers were Jews, was a brilliant opportunity for the 
reactionary elements. 1 The Conservatives caught at the 
opportunity for discrediting the obnoxious reforms by 
describing them as deliberately intended to serve the 

1 Ernest Schuster, " The Anti-Jewish Agitation in Germany," The 
Fortnightly Review, March 1, 1881. 


interests of the Jews. Prince Bismarck, now hostile 
to a party for which he had no further use, transferred 
the weight of his political and personal influence to their 
adversaries and tried to lure the extreme Conservatives 
and Catholics, as well as the working classes, by in- 
vigorating the anti-Jewish agitation. The organs of these 
three parties were filled with diatribes against the Jews, 
and in October, 1879, the first anti-Jewish society was 
founded in Berlin and Dresden, with the object " to unite 
all non-Jewish Germans of all persuasions, all parties, all 
stations, into one common league, which, setting aside 
all separate interests, all political differences, shall strive, 
with all earnestness and diligence for the one end viz., 
to save our German fatherland from becoming completely 
Judaised, and render residence in it supportable to the 
posterity of the aborigines." 1 In accordance with this 
patriotic programme the society christened itself "The 
Anti-Semitic League," partly because there was a sound 
of learning in the word and partly to make it clear that 
the race, and not merely the religion, of the Jew had 
aroused animosity. 2 Prince Bismarck on being interro- 
gated about the movement is said to have answered, " As 
a Minister of State, I condemn it ; but as a Prussian, as 
a German, as a Christian, as a man, I cannot help but 
approve of it." This speech, when compared with the 
speaker's utterances of thirty years before, 3 affords 
sufficiently painful evidence of the long stride which 
German statesmanship had taken backwards. 

Thus the pedantry of the schools joined hands with 
the prejudice of the streets, social and political interests 
combined with national vanity, economic jealousy, scien- 
tific sophistry, and religious bigotry to bring into being 
a movement so utterly incongruous with modern, and 
especially with German, ideas. 

In 1880 and 1881 the warfare continued with systema- 
tized vigour and increasing violence. Judenhetze, under 

1 Statutes quoted by Lucien Wolf in " The Anti-Jewish Agitation," 
The Ni?ietee?ith Century, February, 1881. 

2 Ernest Schuster, ubi supra. 

3 See above, p. 307. 


its less vulgar name, became a virulent epidemic. Both 
Catholic and Lutheran clerics, mortally hostile in every- 
thing else, joined forces against the common enemy, and 
vied with each other in their efforts to gain the goodwill 
of the Christian Socialists. The Social Democrats were the 
only party to denounce the anti-Semitic agitation and to 
take under their protection the persecuted people; an 
attitude which earned them the sincere detestation of the 
ultra-Conservatives. Herr Marr, the great anti-Jewish 
pamphleteer, however, devoted a whole masterpiece to the 
demonstration of the fact that the Social Democrats, whom 
he elegantly called "red mice," were in every way to be 
preferred to the Jewish "golden rats." But the move- 
ment, none the less, continued progressing. Meetings 
were held at which the "Semites " were furiously attacked. 
The members of the " German " League passed solemn 
resolutions to eschew all intercourse, social or commercial, 
with the enemies of the Teutonic race, and Herr Stocker 
and his followers, in their zeal for " the strengthening of 
the Christian Germanic spirit," presented a petition to the 
Prussian Chambers, praying : 

"That immigration of foreign Jews into Germany 
might have some restrictions placed upon it. 

"That the Jews might be excluded from all posts of 
supreme authority, and that in courts of justice a certain 
limitation of their power be instituted. 

"That Christian schools, though used by Jewish 
scholars, should remain distinctively Christian, and that 
Jewish teachers only be employed where the nature of the 
subject taught renders it desirable. 

" That a census or report of the Jewish population be 
forthwith prepared." 1 

The anti-Semitic Leagues, though disapproving of 
violence in their manifestoes, in practice were only too 
ready to encourage the most sordid passions and the 
basest prejudices of the poor and ignorant masses, so 
that, while anti-Semitism led to stormy scenes in the 

1 " The Jews in Germany," by the author of " German Home Life," 
The Contemporary Reviezo y January, 1881. For these and similar 
demands see also Ernest Schuster, ubi supra. 


Prussian Diet, it translated itself into more stormy riots 
outside. Pamphlets and duels were the order of the day 
among the upper classes, sanguinary encounters between 
the Jewish and German mobs among the lower. The 
Liberals protested, the Crown Prince Frederick tried to 
save the Jews from this dastardly persecution, and the 
movement was publicly denounced by many distinguished 
Germans, such as Virchow and Mommsen, as a subversion 
of the principles of humanitarianism promulgated by German 
philosophy, as a blasphemy against German ideals, and as 
a stain on German civilisation. But Jew-baiting was not 
checked before many thousands of Jews were compelled 
to leave their country — the country to which they gave 
Mendelssohn the philosopher and Mendelssohn the com- 
poser, Heine and Borne, Offenbach and Auerbach, Ense, 
Ewald, Jacoby, and a host of other great men, including 
Lasker, who a few years before had done his utmost to 
avert the financial catastrophe for which his co-religionists 
now suffered. 

A German who has played an active part in his country's 
history from 1848 onwards does not hesitate to ascribe 
" the disgraceful orgies of the Jews' Chace, begun on a 
large scale at Berlin on the New Year's night of 1880-81," 
to Prince Bismarck's direct inspiration. " There was 
evidently," he says, writing not long after those events, 
" more method in those ugly rushes and riots than may 
be generally suspected. . . . The German citizens of 
Hebrew origin, or of the Mosaic faith, belong, in their 
great majority, to the Liberal and Radical camp. Several 
of them have achieved the most honourable prominence 
in the progressive parties to which they attached them- 
selves. The great statesman whose ideal is his own 
Dictatorship under cover of the King's personal Govern- 
ment, finding these popular leaders of Semitic blood as 
stumbling-blocks in his path, did not scruple to dally 
coquettishly with the organisers and approvers of the 
Jews' Hunt. An underhand alliance was struck up, in 
old Roman fashion, between out-and-out partisans of 
Caesarism and certain shady leaders of a misguided 
rabble. A Court Preacher, Stocker, acted as the 


go-between and spiritual head of the crusade. The same 
man is now in the German Parliament a chief exponent 
of this cross-breed between princely absolutism and pro- 
fessed philanthropic care for the multitude." 1 

Soon, however, a discrepancy became apparent between 
the leaders of the nationalist and the leaders of the 
religious and economic forces. While anti-Semites, strictly 
so called, clamoured for a revival of the ancient disabilities 
which doomed the Jew to political servitude and social 
ostracism, the Christian Socialists were not prepared to go 
so far. This moderation was partly due to the fact that 
the anti-Semites had manifested symptoms of wishing to 
include Christianity in their denunciation of Judaism as a 
Semitic creed — a tendency which, of course, could inspire 
no sympathy in orthodox theologians and Court Preachers. 
The schism was temporarily healed in 1886: but it was 
reopened three years later. However, this divergence of 
views did not affect the rank and file of the anti- Jewish 
agitators. They cared little for intellectual theories ; but 
were frankly actuated by the blind and unreasoning 
instincts of their mediaeval ancestors. Again the populace 
found allies among the impecunious and the unscrupulous, 
who supplied it with food for its credulity, and among the 
Catholic clergy, who inflamed its fanaticism. The medi- 
aeval charge of ritual murder was once more revived, and 
it led to the destruction of Jewish houses and the burning 
of Jewish synagogues. 

Prince Bismarck's retirement, in 1890, and the abandon- 
ment of his anti-Liberal programme did not mend matters. 
The Conservatives endeavoured to gain the popular ear 
by coming forth as the champions of national unity and of 
the Christian faith, and by denouncing the Jews as the 
enemies of both. This change of attitude brought about 
92 a reconciliation with the nationalist anti-Semites, whose 
rabid programme was fully accepted. And now the two 
sections united brought to bear all their strength against 
the Jews. Christianity and stupidity, respectability and 
sansculottism, were found marshalled in one compact 

1 Karl Blind, " The Conflict in Germany/' The Nineteenth Century t 
February, 1882. 


anx as in the days of yore. In the autumn of 1893 a 
Bill was brought into the German Diet, asking that the 
Talmud should be subjected to an official examination, and 
it was seriously proposed that the old Commission appointed 
for that purpose by the Emperor Maximilian at the instiga- 
tion of PfefFerkorn at the beginning of the sixteenth century 
should be roused from its sleep of ages. But the alliance 
was too grotesque to be effective. The saner section of 
the Conservatives was shocked at the unprincipled tactics 
and the excessive fury of their allies, and, though the 
lower orders of their supporters in the country were not 
troubled by such delicacy, yet the extreme anti-Semitic 
party lost, through its own extravagance, much of its 
influence among the educated. Herr Stocker was expelled 
from Court, and soon after from the ranks of the Con- 
servative party. The Catholics also were shamed into 
breaking all connection with the scandalous demagogues, 
and thus the anti-Semitic distemper, though still an element 
of discord in the Reichstag, has ceased to be an element of 
danger — for the present. But, if the paroxysm is over, 
the disease is not cured. Indeed, individual anti-Semites 
still display a degree of fervour that would have done 
credit to Herr Marr himself on the hey-day of his frenzy. 
The leader of these loyal Jew-haters is Count Puckler, 
whose speeches are sold in the streets of Berlin, and read 
by many Germans with profound approval. All that is 
needed is some encouragement from above, and then we 
may again see many volunteering to translate the prophet's 
visions into deeds of blood. 

From Germany Anti-Semitism found its way to the 
neighbouring states. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire 
politicians and publicists caught the rabies and spread it 
without delay. As early as 1880 an attempt was made to 
establish in Hungary an anti-Semitic league after the 
German pattern, and, though the healthier and more 
enlightened portion of the nation was loth to forget the 
liberal traditions of the past and the services rendered by 
the Jews in the struggle for Hungarian independence, the 
obscurantist elements among the people and the aristocracy, 
in the Church and the official classes, — the vulgar high 


and low — were not disinclined to listen to the dictates of 
bigotry and superstition. An opportunity for a declara- 
tion of the latent prejudice offered in 1881, when a 
Catholic Professor of Hebrew gravely accused the Jews 
of secretly holding the destruction of the Gentiles as a 
religious tenet ; the ritual murder of Christians being only 
one method for carrying out this moral obligation. Despite 
exposure and open repudiation, the worthy Professor's 
utterances tallied so well with preconceived ideas that 
the prehistoric fiction found many eager believers. The 
S2 disappearance of a Christian girl from a Hungarian village 
in the next year strengthened the belief and led to brutal 
outrages on the Jews at Buda-Pesth, Zala and elsewhere, 
the riots being only quelled by the proclamation of 
martial law. This measure, as was natural, was turned 
into an instrument of attack on the Liberal Government, 
already unpopular, as sheltering the enemies of mankind. 
An inquiry was instituted into the alleged murder, many 
Jews were arrested, and evidence was manufactured. But 
in the trial which ensued the plot was stripped of all its 
shameful vestments of perjury, forgery, and intimidation, 
and the prisoners were acquitted. 

While the anti-Semites were covering themselves with 
contempt and ridicule in Hungary, in Austria the move- 
ment attained serious dimensions. The campaign, begun 
with occasional pamphlets, followed the development of 
German anti-Semitism. In Austria, as in Germany, 
Liberalism had been undermined by that worst form of 
racial intolerance known as Christian Socialism, which was 
and is nothing but the old spirit of clerical reaction 
masquerading in the guise of anti-Semitic prejudice and 
pseudo-democratic demagogy. 1 In Austria, as in 
Germany, the operations were conducted by two bodies of 
men — the racial and the religious enemies of the Jew. 
The two bodies met on the common ground of objection 
to the Jews' acquiring land. The anti-Semites proper did 
not like to see the land falling into the hands of non- 
Austrians, and the Christian Socialists objected to its falling 

1 The Vienna Correspondent of the Times in a letter dated Nov. 1 1, 


into the hands of infidel financiers. The agitation was 
gradually organised, and in 1882 two leagues were formed 
in Vienna. Austrian, like German, anti-Semitism was 
immediately exploited for party purposes. Many 
politicians, though themselves free from anti-Semitic 
prejudice, were ready to adopt a cause which promised to 
add to their own strength or to weaken their opponents. 
They, therefore, loudly preached a doctrine which they 
despised, excited passions which they did not share, and 
advocated principles which in all probability they would 
have shrunk from acting upon. Thus the support of the 
anti-Semitic leagues was solicited by the Radical Nation- 
alists on one hand, and by the Liberal Government on 
the other. The Nationalists being less insincere in their 
prejudices, won the victory which they deserved, and the 
coalition between them and the Christian Socialists derived 
additional strength from the anti-clerical policy of the 
Liberal party, which compelled many Catholics who had 
hitherto stood aloof, to join the ranks of anti-Semitism. 18 
Henceforth the agitation was conducted under the 
auspices of the Roman Church. The clerical press dis- 
seminated the seed in the cafes, and the priests fulminated 
against the Jews from the pulpit. The time-dishonoured 
charge of ritual murder was not forgotten, and the Hun- 
garian Upper House, in 1894, rejected the Liberal Bill 
which placed Judaism on a footing of equality with other 

The Liberals had succeeded in offending both the 
Radical Nationalists and the Clericals. They offended 
the former by advocating Jewish rights, and the latter by 
combating the tyranny of the Church. The alliance 
between those two enemies of Liberalism was, in 1895, 
blessed by the Pope, who hoped to gain over, or at least 
to control, the Radicals by drawing closer the bonds which 
united them with the Clericals. The Vatican, disappointed 
in the long-cherished hope of recovering its temporal 
power by the help of the Catholic monarchs, was induced 
to court the democracy. Thus the spiritual tribunal which 
has always taken its stand on the lofty platform of 
obedience to authority, in the pursuance of secular ends 


did not hesitate to lend its sanction to the advocates of 
violence and revolt. The anti-Jewish agitation, hallowed 
by the Vicar of Christ, carried all before it. The anti- 
Semites secured a vast majority in the Municipal Council of 
Vienna, notwithstanding the opposition on the part of the 
Emperor, who dissolved the council twice, only to be met 
each time with an even greater anti-Semitic triumph ; and 
in the Parliamentary Elections of 1897 the allied powers 
of Radical Nationalism and Clericalism secured a strong 
position in the Austrian Reichsrath. This was the 
meridian of anti-Semitic popularity in Austria. But here, 
as in Germany, the unseemly and unnatural coalition 
between rabid Nationalism and respectable Clericalism 
could not last long, and, while it lasted, could command 
but little respect. Three years afterwards the General 
Election showed a decline of public confidence in the 
allies, and many of the Radical Nationalists deserted the 
ranks to form an independent and anti-Clerical party, 
while, on the other hand, the Vatican thought it expedient 
to withdraw its sanction from the Christian Socialists. 

Austro-Hungarian anti-Semitism, however, though 
much weakened, is not dead, and it would be taking too 
sanguine a view of human nature and human intelligence 
to hope that the prejudices, the passions, and the sophisms 
which have led to the recrudescence of Jew-hatred will not 
assert themselves again. In point of fact, there are ample 
signs to confirm this pessimistic forecast. On October 
21, 1904, the Diet of Lower Austria witnessed a scene 
which a spectator pronounced " unparalleled for vulgarity 
and demagogic impudence even in this country of 
crazy Parliamentarism." The anti-Semitic and Christian 
Socialist parties, which still command an overwhelming 
majority both in the Diet and in the Vienna Municipal 
Council, had organised a torch-light procession in honour 
of the sixtieth birthday of Dr. Lueger, the anti-Semite 
Burgomaster of Vienna. The Premier instructed the 
police to prohibit the demonstration. Thereupon the out- 
raged worshippers of the great hero of Christian Socialism 
brought in a motion in which they accused the Premier of 
having yielded to Jewish pressure and to the terrorism of 


the Social Democrats, the champions of the Jews, and 
of " having thereby given proof of shameful cowardice." 
The motion was carried amid loud acclamations in honour 
of Dr. Lueger who, on his followers asserting that the 
reason for the Government's attitude was " the jealousy 
caused in the highest circles by the Burgomaster's 
popularity," modestly assured the House that "he was 
not jealous of the Emperor and repudiated the sup- 
position that he envied the reverence and affection which 
surrounded the Monarch's person." At the end of the 
sitting Dr. Lueger was enthusiastically cheered in the 
streets, while a Social Democratic Deputy was insulted 
and spat upon. 1 This demagogue, who by the volume or 
his voice, the character of his wit and the extent of his 
power over the Viennese mob, recalls vividly the Cleon of 
Aristophanes, a year later warned the Austrian Jews openly 
and with impunity that the Kishineff tragedy might repeat 
itself in Vienna. Even more recently twenty thousand 
Christian Socialists, Clericals and anti-Semites, headed and 
inflamed by Dr. Lueger, made a violent demonstration 
outside the Hungarian Delegation building, as a protest 
against the policy of the " J udaeo- Magyars. " 2 Within a 
week of this outburst Dr. Lueger, in company with Herr 
Schneider, a militant anti-Semite Deputy, paid a visit to 
Bucharest, where he was feted by all classes of Roumanian 
society, from the King downwards : a glorification of this 
arch-enemy of the Jews as significant as it is natural in a 
country where Jew-hatred is at its height. Clearly, 
Austrian anti-Semitism is anything but dead. 

The reply of the Austrian Jews to the anti-Semites 
is characteristic of the movement. Hitherto they had 
been content to identify themselves politically with their 
Christian compatriots. But the continued antipathy on 
the part of the latter has recently forced them to adopt 
a purely Jewish attitude. On the initiative of the 
Jewish representatives of Galicia in the Reichsrath and 

x The Times, October 22, 1904. 

2 Reuter telegram, dated Vienna, June 1 1 , 1 906. Cp. " Hidden 
Forces in Austrian Politics," a letter by " Scotus Viaticus " in the 
Spectator, July 7, 1906. 


in the Galician Diet, the Jews of that province have 
resolved to create a Jewish organisation for the defence 
of the political rights and economic interests of their 
community. 1 Thus modern Jew-haters foster by their 
own efforts the very tribalism which they condemn, 
just as their mediaeval ancestors compelled the Jews 
to adopt money-lending as a profession and then 
denounced them for so doing. 

In France the power of the Jews since the establish- 
ment of the Third Republic increased steadily, and their 
number was to some extent swelled by the arrival of 
brethren driven by anti-Semitism out of Germany. 
Yet, as late as 1881 a writer felt justified in stating 
that "the effervescence of a certain feeling against the 
Jews is apparent in almost all the large states of the 
world with the single exception perhaps of France." 2 
This comparative immunity from the general delirium, 
however, was not to last much longer. Nationalism, 
clericalism, and economic jealousy in France, as elsewhere, 
were at work, and demagogues ready to make use of 
these forces were not wanting. 

Ernest Renan, in 1882, aimed some of his delicately- 
pointed shafts of irony at "the modern Israelite with 
whom our great commercial towns of Europe have 

become acquainted during the last fifty years 

How careless he shows himself of a paradise mankind 
has accepted upon his word ; with what ease he accom- 
modates himself to all the folds of modern civilisation ; 
how quickly he is freed from all dynastic and feudal 
prejudice ; and how can he enjoy a world he has not 
made, gather the fruits of a field he has not tilled, 
supplant the blockhead who persecutes him, or make 
himself necessary to the fool who despises him. It is 
for him, you would think, that Clovis and his Franks 
fought, that the race of Capet unfolded its policy of a 
thousand years, that Philip Augustus conquered at 
Bouvines and Conde at Rocroi ! . . . He who over- 

!The Vienna correspondent of The Times, January 7, 1907. 

2 Lucien Wolf, "The Anti-Jewish Agitation," The Nineteenth Century, 


turned the world by his faith in the kingdom of God 
believes now in wealth only." 1 That Renan, the high- 
priest of Idealism, should feel aggrieved at the materialism 
of the modern representative of his beloved Semitic race 
is not surprising. It is, however, surprising that the 
Jew, who has so often been persecuted for his obstinate 
adherence to his traditions and for his detachment from 
his surroundings, should be taken to task by Renan 
for the ease with which " he accommodates himself to 
all the folds of modern civilisation." Either Renan is 
right or the anti-Semites. One and the same body of 
men cannot very well be both obdurate and accom- 
modating. It is, however, the Jew's special privilege to 
be denounced by one half of the world for the possession 
of a certain quality, and by the other half for the lack of 
it. Consistency has never been a marked characteristic of 
Jew-haters, and, perhaps, it is not reasonable to expect 
it from men under the spell of so engrossing a pastime as 
the excommunication of their fellows. 

Of course, Renan himself, his mellifluous mockery 
notwithstanding, was the very antithesis of a Jew-hater. 
Nationalism had no greater enemy and Liberalism no 
warmer champion than Renan. He never tired of 
asserting that ethnographical facts possessed only a 
scientific importance, and were devoid of all political 
significance. 2 So far as the Jews were concerned, he 
proclaimed with enthusiasm the services rendered by 
them to the cause of civilisation and progress in the 
past, and emphatically expressed his conviction that they 
were destined to render equally brilliant services in the 
future : " Every Jew," he said, " is essentially a Liberal, 
while the enemies of Judaism, examined closely, will be 
found to be, in general, the enemies of the modern 
spirit. This," he added, " applies especially to the 
French Jews, such as they have been made by the 
Revolution ; but I am persuaded that every country 
which will repeat the experiment, renounce State religion, 

x fctude sur VEcclesiaste, pp. 91 fol. 

2 See Qiiest-ce quune Nation? a paper read at the Sorbonne on 
March 11, 1882, in Discours et Conferences, pp. 277 fol. 


secularise the civil life, and establish the equality of 
all the citizens before the law, will arrive at the same 
result and will find as excellent patriots in the Jewish 
creed as in other creeds." "The work of the nineteenth 
century," he declared on another occasion, "is to demolish 
all the ghettos, and I do not congratulate those who 
elsewhere seek to rebuild them." 1 

But at the very moment, when Renan was giving 
utterance to these noble sentiments, there was preparing 
in his own country an agitation precisely similar to that 
which had " elsewhere sought to rebuild the ghettos." 

The slumbering prejudice against the Jew • was in 
France first awakened by the Panama scandals, and 
immediately afterwards there was formed in Paris a union 
with the object of freeing the country from the financial 
tyranny of Jews and other non-Catholics and foreigners. 
The Vatican, ever on the alert, saw in the movement an 
opportunity of strengthening the clerical interest in a state 
which had so sadly neglected its traditional role of the 
Pope's champion, and from an eldest daughter of the 
Church had turned into its bitterest enemy. The Pope, 
therefore, bestowed upon the union his blessing. But 
2 the institution after a brief career ended in a bank- 
ruptcy from which not even Papal prayers could save it. 
Like Julius Caesar's spirit, however, the union even 
after its dissolution continued to harass its rivals. Its 
failure, attributed to the machinations of the Jews, put 
fresh life into the anti-Semitic agitation. Publicists 
interpreted the popular feeling and gratified the national 
amour propre by describing in sombre colours the per- 
nicious influence of the Jewish plutocracy on the life of 
France, and by tracing to that influence the undeniable 
immorality of French society. 2 The discomfiture of that 
brilliant and weak adventurer, Boulanger, brought about, 
as it was, chiefly by the efforts of a Jewish journalist of 

1 See lectures and speeches delivered in 1883 in Discours et Con- 
ferences, pp. 336, 374, etc. 

2 See Ed. Drumont's La France Juive, a work which, published in 
1886, raised its author at once to the rank of commander-in-chief 
of the anti-Semitic forces in France. 


German extraction and connections, drew down upon the 
Jews, and especially upon foreign Jews, the wrath of 
General Boulanger's supporters. An anti-Semitic League 
was founded in Paris, with branches in the provinces. The 
Royalists and the Nationalists, the warriors of the Church 
and the warriors of the army, the desperate defenders 
of lost causes, who had nothing more to lose, and the 
zealots for new causes, who had as yet everything to win, 
all rallied round the standard of anti-Semitism, which 
derived additional popularity and glory from the alliance 
of France with Russia, the persecutrix of Israel. Soon 
after an anti-Semitic journal made its appearance in Paris, 1892 
and its columns were filled with scandals, scented out with 
truly inquisitorial diligence, and with attacks on Jewish 
officers. Anti-Jewish feeling daily grew in bitterness, 
the term " Juif " came to be accepted as a synonym for 
variety of villainy, and the position of the Jewish officers 
in the French army became intolerable, till the ferment 
culminated in the arrest and conviction of Captain Dreyfus. 1894 

All the prejudices and passions of the past and all the 
conflicting interests of the present were now gathered up 
into a storm almost unparalleled in the history of con- 
temporary Europe. The most popular newspapers vied 
with each other in pandering to the lowest feelings and 
most ignorant prejudices of the vulgarest classes of the 
French nation. From one end of France to the other 
nothing was heard but execrations of the Jewish traitor. 
The modern Frenchman was not unwilling to forgive 
the Jew his supposed enmity to Christianity, but what 
patriot could forgive him his supposed treachery to the 
French army ? The hatred of the race, expressed with 
eloquent virulence in Parliament and in the press, found 
even more vigorous expression with dynamite, and an 
attempt was made to blow up the Rothschild Bank in 1895 
Paris. Meanwhile the Captain's friends worked with 
untiring earnestness, patience, and ability to establish 
his innocence. A series of disclosures ensued ; the 
public, led by the late M. Zola, Colonel Picquart, and 
other advocates of justice, began to feel qualms on the 
subject, and the demand for a revision of the trial 


grew daily louder. By this time the Dreyfus affair 
had been drawn into the mad vortex of party 
politics, and this accounts for the extent and depth of 
an agitation hardly intelligible when viewed in relation 
to the comparatively small number of French Jews. 1 
To be or not to be revised, that was the question, 
and upon the answer the rival parties staked their 
reputations and their political ideals. The Liberals 
defended Dreyfus not so much because they believed him 
to be innocent, as because he was attacked by the Clericals. 
The Clericals, on the other hand, denounced the Dreyfus- 
ards as enemies of their country and of its army — the 
Christian Faith was tactfully kept in the background 
— a distinguished Academician wrote a book on Nation- 
alism in which he analysed Zola's genius and character, 
and proved to his own satisfaction, and to the satis- 
faction of thousands of readers, that Zola was not a 

But in the midst of all this clamour, riot, vilification 
and assault, the demand for a revision continued persist- 
ently to gain ground, and the Liberals, representing the 
sanest and healthiest element in the Republic, finally 
prevailed. The new trial at Rennes brought to light the 
8 forgeries and perjuries by which the conviction of the 
Jewish captain had been secured. None the less, the 
sentence was not revoked. The verdict of the new court- 
martial was an attempt to save judicial appearances by 
finding the prisoner guilty, and to save justice by recom- 
mending him to mercy. Dreyfus was restored to his family, 
but not to his honour. However, public opinion both in 
France and abroad had forestalled the verdict of the Court 
by acquitting the prisoner of the crime and by pitying in 
him the victim of a foul conspiracy. Nationalism, Cleri- 
calism, Royalism, and all the legions of anti-Semitism 
received a severe blow by the triumph of the Dreyfusards ; 
but, though their star was no longer at its zenith, it had not 
yet set. The agitation in favour of a complete reversal of 
Captain Dreyfus' sentence continued, and the demand for 

1 86,885 in a total population of 38,595,000, i.e. a percentage of 
00.22, Jewish Year Book, 1902-03. 


a new revision of the case was pronounced by the National- 
ists as a fresh development of the " anti-national " policy 
of the Liberals, and as a conspiracy on their part for the 
purpose of inflicting a new humiliation on the Army by 
constraining it to proclaim the innocence of a man it had 
twice condemned as a traitor. A joint manifesto, bearing 
the signatures of the Patriotic League, the National 
Anti-Semitic Federation, and the French Socialist Party, 
was issued appealing to the French public " to frustrate 
the efforts of the occult Sectarians, Internationalists, and 
financial powers." 1 

At the same time anti-Semitic sentiments found 
applauding audiences in the French theatres, as was 
shown in December, 1903, by the success at the Paris 
Gymnase of Le Retour de Jerusalem — a play which 
nattered the feelings of the audience by dwelling on 
the familiar points of the anti-Semitic creed : the Jews' 
clannishness, their readiness to help their own co- 
religionists, their sans patrie ; and justified its prejudices 
by emphasising that natural incompatibility of tempera- 
ment which is supposed to doom Jew and Gentile to 
everlasting alienation. Nevertheless, the wiser section of 
the French people carried the day in the end. The 
Court of Cassation, the highest tribunal in France, after 
two years' examination, quashed the verdict of the Rennes 1906 
court-martial, declaring that there never was any founda- J ul 7 I2I 3 
tion for any of the charges brought against Captain Dreyfus. 
The French Government thereupon submitted to Parlia- 
ment a Bill providing for the complete rehabilitation of 
all the victims of the conspiracy. The Bill was passed 
by an overwhelming majority. Captain Dreyfus was 
promoted to the rank of Major and presented with the 
Cross of the Legion of Honour, Col. Picquart was 
made a Brigadier-General, the remains of M. Zola were 
transferred to the Pantheon, and in the gallery of the 
Senate were erected busts of the two Senators who first 
stood out in favour of the innocence of Dreyfus. Thus 
France wiped out the stain on its national character, and 
the drama which had agitated the world for twelve years 
1 The Standard, Dec. 7, 1903. 


came to a happy end. This end, however, satisfactory as 
it is, must be regarded as a victory of justice due to 
special political causes rather than as a proof of a 
revolution of the popular attitude towards the Jews, or as a 
guarantee against a recrudescence of French anti-Semitism 
in the future. The "Jewish Peril" is one of those evil 
spirits which are in the habit of vanishing and re-appearing 
from time to time, always with a fresh face and changed 
garb, but always the same. 

The Jewish Question from France passed to the 
French colony of Algeria. In 1870 an Act, known as the 
Cremieux Decree, enfranchised the Jewish inhabitants of 
the colony en masse. For twenty-five years the measure 
excited little or no protest. But, as a result of the 
anti-Jewish agitation in the mother country, it suddenly 
became the subject on which elections were passionately 
fought and the barrier that divided local politicians into 
two opposite parties : Judaisants and Anti-Juifs. A Com- 
mission appointed to inquire into this sudden revulsion of 
feeling, reported that the alleged reasons were " usury " 
and the unwillingness of the Jews to assimilate themselves 
to the French. Usury, it was recognised by sensible 
Frenchmen, is inevitable in a country still in the Algerian 
stage of economic development. Moreover, the official 
inquiry proved that all the Jews are not usurers, and that 
all the usurers are not Jews ; that, in fact, the mass of the 
Jewish inhabitants of Algeria are very poor. 1 None the 
less, these allegations bring into vivid relief the essential 
antiquity of modern anti-Semitism. 

The modern version of Jew-^hatred, as was only natural, 
was welcomed in both Roumania and Russia. Both 
countries are still mediaeval in most respects; but the 
foreign doctrine of Nationalism, concealing, as it does, a 
very old instinct under a new euphemistic name, presented 

1 A statistic supplied to the Commission for Tlemcen shows that out 
of 6000 Jews there are only 10 possessing more than £2000, and 
another, supplied for Constantine, shows that out of 1024 Jewish 
electors there are only 10 possessed of real estate and 146 merchants. 
The rest lead a miserable hand-to-mouth existence. — Le Temps, Sept. 
25, 1901. 


nothing incongruous with indigenous bigotry. Economic 
considerations deepened the bitter feeling against the Jew, 
as has been narrated. 

Italy and Greece have declined to listen to the new 
creed of intolerance. There are few Jews in those coun- 
tries. Besides, both the Italians and the Greeks, though 
sensitively attached to their national ideals, have too keen 
a sense of proportion, and the Greeks, at all events, too 
much commercial ability to entertain any jealousy of the 

England has not failed in this, as in former ages, to 
follow, after a lukewarm and sluggish fashion, the Conti- 
nental evolution of the feeling towards the Jew. In 
popular literature and art the Jew had never ceased to 
figure as an object of derision and repugnance. What 
reader of Dickens need be reminded of the execrable Mr. 
Fagin, trainer of juvenile criminals and tormentor of poor 
Oliver Twist, or of Cruikshank's portrait of that and 
other Israelites ? But these pleasant creations, however 
grossly they may sin against truth, were as innocent of 
any deliberate intention to stir up a hatred against the 
Jew as Shakespeare's and Marlowe's personifications of 
evil in the characters of Shylock and Barabas. The taint 
of malignant anti-Semitism made its first unmistakable 
appearance in England during the Eastern Crisis of 
187 6- 1878. A Jew was then Prime Minister, and that 
Jew opposed the pro-Bulgarian policy of the Liberal party. 
To that party the conflict between the Sultan and his 
Christian subjects was then, as it still is, a conflict 
between the Cross and the Crescent, between Europe 
and Asia, between Aryanism and Semitism. What 
mattered to the Liberal politicians that Islam, in point 
of fact, since its first missionary zeal spent itself many 
centuries ago in Asia and Africa, has never tried, and 
does not want, to kill Christianity ? What mattered to 
them that Christianity, in point of history, is a Semitic 
creed, and in its original Eastern form nearer to Islam 
than to the product of the Western temperament 
which passes under the same name? What mattered to 
them that the Turks, after five or six centuries of 


constant marriage to women of the subject races, have, 
ethnographically speaking, become more European than 
the Bulgarians, who, in point of blood, are more Turkish 
than the modern Turks ? What mattered to them that 
the Turks are not Semites at all ? What mattered to 
the opponents of the Jew that the doctrine of the integrity 
of the Ottoman Empire had been promulgated before 
Disraeli left school, and that his Eastern policy of a 
regenerated Turkey was a policy evolved by as good 
Christians as themselves long before Disraeli became a 
power in the land — by men like the Duke of Wellington 
and Sir Stratford Canning — and carried on by contem- 
porary diplomatists and statesmen like Lord Salisbury, 
Sir Henry Layard, and Sir Henry Elliot ? These are 
mere facts. The Liberal party wanted broad principles 
and a euphonious war-cry. Disraeli was opposed 
to Russia's ambition, and Disraeli was a Jew. What 
could be easier than to connect the two things ? The 
enemy of Russia was an enemy of Christianity, of 
Aryanism, of Europe. If any doubt was possible, it 
could easily be dispelled by a reference to Disraeli's 
romances. There, as elsewhere, in season and out of 
season, Disraeli preached the greatness of his persecuted 
race with a sincerity, a courage and a consistency which, 
in the eyes of the neutral student, form the noblest trait 
in his character ; in the eyes of a political opponent, the 
most conclusive proof of his Jewish hostility to Chris- 
tianity. Accordingly, we find Mr. Gladstone, in 1876, 
confiding to the sympathetic ear of his friend, the Duke 
of Argyll, the following, philosophical reflection : " I 
have a strong suspicion that Dizzy's crypto-Judaism has 
had to do with his policy : the Jews of the East bitterly hate 
the Christians, who have not always used them well." x 

At the same time other politicians vented their 
prejudice against the Jews, and against Disraeli's " Jewish 
aims " in various books, 2 pamphlets, speeches and articles, 
while soon after, when the eloquent tongue was for ever 

1 J. Morley, Life ofW. E. Gladstone, vol. iv. pp. 552, 558. 
2 E.g. Sir J. G. T. Sinclair, J Defence of Russia (1877); T. P. 
O'Connor, Lord Beaconsfieid : a Biography (1878) ; etc. 


silenced, and the man who had bent Europe to his will 
was no longer able to defend himself, reverend ecclesiastics 
took pains to trace, with an enthusiasm and an acumen 
worthy of a less ignoble task, the origin and development 
of the great statesman's " deceitfulness," of his " political 
dishonesty," of his " disregard of morality in the pursuit 
of personal ambition," of his "theological and political 
scepticism," of his "jealousy for the spiritual and 
intellectual supremacy of the Semitic race," and the rest 
of his virtues, from his early home education under his 
Jewish sceptic of a father and his vulgar Jewess of a 
mother, through his school life, his apprenticeship in a 
solicitor's office, the various stages of his literary and 
political career, up to the moment of his death. It was, 
however, pointed out with an air of charitable patronage 
not unamusing, when the relative magnitude of the 
author and the subject of the criticism is considered, 
that " it would be harsh and unfair to judge him by our 
ordinary standard of political morality," for " Mr. 
Disraeli started on his public career with little or no 
furniture of moral or religious principles of any kind." 1 
The writer repeated the favourite explanation of Disraeli's 
opposition to Gladstone's Eastern policy, namely, that it 
arose from the fact that " the ' bag and baggage ' policy 
cut rudely across his cherished convictions respecting the 
'Semitic principle.' The Turks, indeed," the learned 
theologian naively observes, " do not belong to the Semitic 
race ; but their theocratic polity is the product of a 
Semitic brain, and was, therefore, sacred in the eyes of 
Lord Beaconsfield." 2 In the writer's opinion Disraeli's 

1 In justice to the writer it must be added that this ungenerous and 
untrue caricature was the common estimate of Disraeli entertained by all 
his political opponents. Except Lord Acton, they all agreed with the 
Duke of Argyll in holding that Disraeli was a " fantastic adventurer " — 
a man who, having no opinions of his own and no traditions with which 
to break, " was free to play with prejudices in which he did not share, 
and to express passions which were not his own, except in so far as 
they were tinged with personal resentment." See Duke of Argyll : 
Autobiography and Memoirs, Vol. i. p. 280. 

2 Malcolm MacColl, " Lord Beaconsfield," The Contemporary Review, 
June, 1 88 1. 


dearest ideal, when it was not his own pre-eminence, was 
the pre-eminence of the Jewish nation, his whole career 
being a compound of selfishness and Semitism. 

While chivalrous theologians made these interesting post- 
mortem investigations into the character of the champion 
of Semitism, learned professors made equally interesting 
studies in the character of anti-Semitism. And while the 
former denounced that representative of the race as one 
who had made " self-aggrandisement the one aim of his 
life," the latter endeavoured to justify the conduct of its 
enemies on the ground of Hebrew " tribalism," " materi- 
alism," " opportunism," " cosmopolitanism," and other 
vices ending in — ism. 1 

As these charges are still brought against the Jews by 
their enemies in England, it may be not irrelevant to 
answer some of them once for all. No one with a 
biographical dictionary on his book-shelf requires to be 
told that the Jewish people, far from specialising in 
material aims, has never shirked its due share in the 
world's intellectual work, though it has seldom been 
accorded its due share of the world's recognition. Look 
wheresoever we like, in science, art, music, philosophy, 
letters, politics, we everywhere find the Jew generously 
contributing to the common fund of human knowledge. 
From Higher Criticism, which was initiated by a Jew 
in the third century, and Comparative Philology, also 
originated by a Jew in the ninth, through Spinoza's 
philosophical work in the seventeenth, and Mendelssohn's 
in the eighteenth, down to the psychological labours of 
Steinthal, who died in 1892 — to mention only a few of 
the best known names — we find proofs which speak for 
themselves, and abundantly refute the calumny that the 
Jews are a race of mere money-mongers and money- 
grabbers. In the Dark Ages the conditions under which 
Israel was doomed to live were by no means favourable to 
the development of spiritual qualities. Mediaeval Europe, 
as a rule, did not allow more than three outlets to Hebrew 

1 Goldwin Smith, "The Jews," The 'Nineteenth Century, Nov., 1882. 
The writer repeats all these views, in almost identical terms, in The 
Independent, June 21, 1906c 


activity. The Jew could only become a merchant, a finan- 
cier, or a physician, and in all these three professions he 
achieved the distinction to which his superiority entitled 
him. Imaginative by nature, cosmopolitan by necessity, a 
reasoner and a linguist by education, with all his faculties 
sharpened by persecution, and all his passions disciplined by 
adversity, the Jew could not but assert himself among his 
narrow-minded and ignorant contemporaries. Accordingly 
we find the mediaeval Jew foremost in Medicine, 
Commerce, and Finance. As to medicine, enough has 
already been said. As to commerce, the supremacy of the 
Jews has never been disputed. Their financial pre- 
eminence is equally recognised. But it is not often 
recalled that the Jews, in order to facilitate the trans- 
mission of their wealth amidst the violence and extortions 
of the Middle Ages, were the first to invent the admirable 
system of paper currency — an invention which, Alison the 
historian asserts, had it been made earlier, might have 
averted the downfall of the Western Roman Empire. 
But, apart from chrematistic pursuits, even in the Middle 
Ages the Jews, prevented by persecution and social 
isolation from tying themselves permanently to any parti- 
cular country, and forced to lead a nomad existence, used 
their opportunities of travel not only for the purpose of 
commerce, but also for the transmission of knowledge. 
Thus, consciously or not, the mediaeval Jew became the 
great middleman by whose agency what learning there was 
found its way from country to country. In Spain, before 
the holy war against the race deprived it of the conditions 
necessary for the development of its genius, we have seen 
the Jews distinguishing themselves in literature, scholastic 
philosophy, science, and diplomacy. After their expulsion 
the Spanish exiles influenced the culture of the countries 
over which they spread in many ways; Baruch Spinoza 
being only the greatest star in a great constellation. 
Even in England, where few of those refugees contrived 
to penetrate, we find their spiritual influence in King 
James's translation of the Bible, which in many places 
bears the traces of David Kimchi's Commentary. 1 
1 Israel Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, Introd. 


The place of Israel in the mediaeval world has been 
described with equal justness and eloquence by Lecky : 
" While those around them were grovelling in the dark- 
ness of besotted ignorance ; while juggling miracles and 
lying relics were themes on which almost all Europe 
was expatiating; while the intellect of Christendom, 
enthralled by countless persecutions, had sunk into a 
deadly torpor, in which all love of inquiry and all search 
for truth were abandoned, the Jews were still pursuing 
the path of knowledge, amassing learning, and stimulating 
progress, with the same unflinching constancy that they 
manifested in their faith. They were the most skilful 
physicians, the ablest financiers, and among the most pro- 
found philosophers; while they were only second to the 
moderns in the cultivation of natural science, they were 
also the chief interpreters to Western Europe of Arabian 
learning." x 

In modern Europe also we have seen how varied and 
how beneficial has, since their emancipation, been the 
activity of the Jews in other than financial departments. 
In face of these facts how ineffably ridiculous seems 
the anti-Semite's homily on " A Jew of the Coheleth 
type " who " pursues gain with an undivided soul, 
whereas the soul of the Christian or the Idealist is 
divided," and his calm, self-sufficient pronouncement that 
" much of the best Christian and Idealist intellect is 
entirely given to objects quite different from gain or 
power." The remark, of course, is true in so far as 
the two " types " are concerned. But, unless the writer 
means to make the astounding assertion that, other condi- 
tions being identical, the one type is peculiar to the Jews, 
and the other to the Christians — that the ordinary Jew is 
born a materialist, and the ordinary Christian an Idealist, — 
his statement is pointless. It becomes worse than pointless 
when he proceeds to emphasise the " compact organisa- 
tion" of Jewish, as contrasted with the "loose texture" of 
Christian society, and to proclaim that "in this respect the 
Gentile, instead of starting fair, is handicapped in the race." 2 

1 Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vol. ii. p. 281. 

2 Goldwin Smith, ubi supra. 


The only logical inference to be drawn from these 
premisses is that the balance must be redressed by op- 
pressing the Jew. But the author shrinks from drawing 
that inference. Mediaeval and Continental anti-Semites 
have been more consistent and courageous. 

Such was the genesis of English anti-Semitism. How- 
ever, the bulk of the public took little or no notice of 
these utterances. The English people is not intellectual 
enough to be moved by literary theories. Its very slow- 
ness in discarding old errors is a guarantee against 
precipitancy in embracing new ones. But, when a griev- 
ance is presented to it in the more tangible form of a 
practical and mischievous fact, then the English people 
begins to think. 

The persecution of the Jews in Russia, Roumania, 
Hungary, and Germany threatened to flood England with 
a crowd of refugees more industrious than the English 
workman, more frugal, and far more temperate. The 
consequence would have been a fall in wages. The 
danger was too practical to be ignored ; fortunately, both 
for the English workman and for the Jew, it was tempo- 
rarily averted by the Jewish charitable associations, which 
directed emigration into safer channels. But, though 
the immediate cause for alarm disappeared, the anti- 
Jewish feeling remained ; and was fed by the influx of 
new crowds from Eastern Europe at a later period. 
Again the Board of Guardians, the Russo-Jewish Com- 
mittee and other organisations exerted themselves 
strenuously to prevent the immigrants from becoming 
in any case a burden to the British rate-payer. With 
that object in view, measures were taken that those 
victims of oppression who remained in England should 
be enabled without delay to earn their own bread by 
that industry for which they might be best fitted ; but, 
wherever it was possible, a home was found for them 
in countries less populous than England and more suit- 
able for colonisation. At the same time, by means of 
representations addressed to Jewish authorities, and 
published in Jewish papers abroad, regarding the con- 
gested state of the British labour market, efforts were 


made to stem the tide of further immigration. 1 But 
these efforts have not proved entirely successful. So 
that the interminable cycle of prejudice and platitude, 
interrupted for a while, has again resumed its ancient 
course. As in the early days of the nineteenth century, 
so now, at the commencement of the twentieth, our 
libraries are slowly enriched with volumes of exquisite 
dulness. We are called upon to fight the old battle over 
again. The enemy appears under many colours ; but all 
the legions, though they know it not, fight for the same 
cause. And, though their diversity is great, none of the 
banners are new. 

First comes our ancient friend, the theologian, Bible in 
hand ; as valiant of heart as ever, and as loud of voice. 
He is a worthy descendant of St. Dominic, though perhaps 
he would be horrified if he were told so. But History is 
cruel, and the records of the past remain indelible. What 
student of history can fail to catch the note of familiarity 
in our modern missionary's oratory ? 

" Jesus is the Way " : saith the preacher, " Although 
the Jews have the law, they cannot come to God, because 
Jesus is the Way. Although they have the Old Testa- 
ment, they do not know the truth, because Jesus is the 
Truth and Life ! " and after several sentences rich in 
emphasis, fervour, and capital letters, comes the old, old 
conclusion : " adoption and true spiritual life there is 
none, where Christ has not kindled it. Israel, in its 
present state, the Christless Israel, shows this to the 
whole world. Notwithstanding the great activity and 
energy of the religious life of the Jews, they have — we 
say it with great sorrow — no life indeed — what they have 
is all carnal — and this accounts for the phenomenon that 
they have not been of much spiritual use to the world 
since Christ's coming. In Christ alone will Israel live 
again and be a blessing to the world." 2 

So speaks the advocate of conversion. His hope in 

1 S. Singer, " The Russo-Jewish Immigrant," in The English Illustrated 
(Magazhie, Sept. 1891. 

2 David Baron, The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jezv, p. 179, 


the future is as great as his forgetfulness of the past. 
" The great God," he informs us with touching assurance, 
" is, in His providence, now rapidly preparing the way 
for the final and only possible solution." Ah, my good 
friend, it is very natural in a Christian to believe that 
" true spiritual life there is none, where Christ has not 
kindled it," it is very pleasant to point the finger of scorn 
at " Christless Israel," it is very well to prophesy that " in 
Christ alone will Israel live again and be a blessing to the 
world." But how are we to convince Israel that it is so ? 
This ancient nation which, having defied the onslaughts of 
centuries, has lived so long, seen so much, suffered so 
much, and survived so much, is it likely to succumb to 
our timeworn arguments ? Or would you advise us to 
bid the Jew once more choose between baptism and the 
stake ? This argument also has been tried and found 
inadequate. Convert the Jews ! You might as hopefully 
attempt to convert the Pyramids. 

Thus far the apostle. Next comes the patriot — a 
student of statistics, sad and, so far as religious bias goes, 
quite sober. In tones of sepulchral solemnity he warns 
us that, if England is to escape the fate of the Continent, 
namely, " of the Jews becoming stronger, richer, and 
vastly more numerous ; with the corresponding certainty 
of the press being captured " by them, " and the national 
life stifled by the substitution of material aims for those 
which, however faultily, have formed the unselfish and 
imperial objects of the Englishmen who have made the 
Empire" — if these dire calamities are to be averted, 
England must " abandon her secular practice of com- 
placent acceptance of every human being choosing to 
settle on these shores." Should nothing be done to 
check the evil, there is bound to ensue an outbreak 
against the race " the members of which are always in 
exile and strangers in the land of their adoption." 1 

The appeal to the Empire is quite modern, although, 

if the author had any intelligent conception of his own 

case, he might have seen that Imperialism is the very last 

thing in the world he should have summoned to the 

1 Arnold White, The Modern Jew, 1 899. 


support of his narrow Nationalism : the two things differ 
as widely as the author differs from Julius Caesar. If the 
British Empire were confined to Englishmen, it would 
soon cease to be an empire. Equally novel is the inter- 
pretation of our expansion as due to an unselfish zeal for 
somebody else's good — the author does not state whose. 
But the specific charge brought against the Jewish race as 
one "the members of which are always in exile and 
strangers in the land of their adoption " is hardly worthy 
of the author's originality. 

The prophet objects to the Jews as not having been "of 
much spiritual use to the world." It is hard to dispute 
the statement, because it is impossible to know the par- 
ticular meaning which the prophet attaches to the word 
"spiritual." His position is unassailable. The patriot, 
however, denounces the Jews as the promoters of 
" material aims," and thereby convicts himself either of 
gross ignorance or of deliberate distortion of facts. 
What the world of thought owes to the Jews has already 
been described with a fulness of detail which will probably 
appear superfluous to most educated people. As regards 
the assertion that the Jew still looks upon himself as one 
in exile and a stranger in a foreign land, we propose to 
deal with it when we come to consider the attitude of the 
Jews towards the Zionist movement. Here it is sufficient 
to point out that the term " Jew " is far too wide to 
warrant any sweeping generalisation. There are Jews 
and Jews, just as there are Christians and Christians. 
History abundantly proves that the Jew in the past 
retained most of his clannishness where he was most 
grievously oppressed. As to modern Judaism, since the 
day of Moses Mendelssohn there has set in a disintegra- 
tion which renders a comprehensive and confident pro- 
nouncement only possible to those who consider prejudice 
an adequate substitute for knowledge. But there is no 
necessity for such a universal pronouncement. If we 
want an answer to the question, " Can the Jew be a 
patriot ? " we need only glance at the history of modern 
Europe. Did not Jews fight with the Germans against 
the French in the days of Napoleon, with the Hungarians 


against the Austrians in 1848, with the Austrians against 
the Prussians in 1866, with the Germans against the 
French and the French against the Germans in 1870, with 
the Roumanians against the Turks in 1877 ? Or can 
man express his devotion to his country in a more unam- 
biguous manner than by dying for it ? Unless, indeed, 
the perfidious Jew even in dying is actuated by some 
ulterior motive. 

But why should we look further than home ? In 1831 
Macaulay wrote : "If the Jews have not felt towards 
England like children, it is because she has treated them 
like a step-mother." England has ceased to treat the 
Jews like a step-mother. How far has England's change 
of attitude towards the Jew affected the Jew's attitude 
towards England? On Sunday, December 28, 1902, 
Lord Roberts attended a special service, at the Central 
Synagogue in Great Portland Street, held for Jewish 
members of the regular and auxiliary forces who fell 
in South Africa fighting for England. The day was well 
chosen ; for on the same day is performed the annual 
celebration in remembrance of the warlike exploits of the 
Maccabees — a coincidence which disproves in a practical 
manner the dogmatic generalisation that " a man's heart 
cannot belong to two nations," and which shows that the 
English Jew, at all events, can be both a Hebrew and an 
Englishman : he can cherish the ideals of the past and 
yet live in the realities of the present. The soldiers in 
whose memory the ceremony was held formed a portion 
of a force counting more than 1,200 officers and men, 
who took a creditable part in the war. This number 
assumes new significance, when we consider that the total 
Hebrew population of Great Britain that year did not 
exceed iSOjOOO, 1 and that with us every soldier is a 
volunteer. The Jew has done as much for the English 
mother as any of her Christian sons : he has laid down 
his life in defence of her cause. Moreover, to join the 
army, the Jew must necessarily sacrifice something besides 
life — something that he holds higher than life — some of 
his religion, and particularly the ceremonial rites, such as 
1 Jezvish Tear Book, 1902. 


the dietary laws and the Sabbath. But foremost English 
Rabbis, like the late Simeon Singer, maintained that duty 
to England justified and even consecrated this sacrifice. 

Nor was this most unequivocal proof of patriotism 
a solitary instance. For the last ten years the Feast of 
Dedication has been associated with a celebration for the 
men serving in the Regular and Auxiliary Forces. On 
December 13, 1903, the Rev. Francis L. Cohen, to whose 
initiative the custom is due, inaugurated the second 
decade of these celebrations at the New West-end 
synagogue in the presence of 38 officers and 167 men, 
and also a number of new Jewish officers, including a 
Major-General and a General. The preacher dwelt on 
the promptitude with which Jewish Britons responded to 
the call during the last war. He referred to the 127 
Jews who then " gave their lives for the flag they all 
honoured and loved," and announced that, as a testimony 
"to the pride and joy wherewith the Jews hail their 
privilege of sharing in the voluntary burden of their 
common country's defence," they sought to endow a 
trophy "to be competed for from year to year at the 
great annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, 
such as might stimulate others of their fellow-citizens to 
perfect themselves in the military use of that weapon 
which might at any moment again be required to protect 
the immunity of their Sovereign's territories." 1 The 
truth is that religion has long ceased to be the principal 
force in the composition of nations. In the present 
stage of the world's development sympathy with one's 
co-religionists does not exclude loyalty to one's country, 
any more than loyalty to one's country prevents hatred 
of one's co-religionists in other countries. 

The continuance of oppression and persecution in 
Eastern Europe has kept the stream of emigration flowing. 
As was natural, great numbers of the hunted race turned 
to England as to the one European country where liberty 
has not yet been seriously endangered by the revival of 
intolerance. But the welcome which they met with in 
this sanctuary of freedom has not been unanimous. The 
1 Report in The Stajidard, Dec. 14, 1903. 


"Alien Invasion," as it is termed, has roused considerable 
anxiety and apprehension in certain bosoms. We are told 
by the melancholic patriot, in a more recent and more 
popular publication, 1 that it is a menace to the nation, 
that " British right of asylum hitherto has been as profit- 
able to the Empire as to the immigrants," but that " it is 
otherwise to-day." We are exhorted to reconsider our 
position, and to ask ourselves whether we are right in 
" permitting free import of the sweepings of foreign cities 
to contaminate our English life, to raise rents, and lower 
the standard of existence." We are, lastly, advised to 
shut our doors to "undesirable aliens." The question 
thus put admits of but one answer. If these aliens are 
undesirable, we ought not to desire them. No one 
would cavil with our advisers were it not that under 
the mask of a movement for the exclusion of " unde- 
sirable " individuals there seems to lurk in some quarters 
a retrogressive animosity against the Jewish race as a 
whole, or a wish to stir up such an animosity. The 
melancholic patriot opportunely reminds us that " the 
foreigners who settle in England are almost entirely of 
the Jewish race, and it is therefore impossible to discuss 
the question of foreign immigration without raising the 
Jewish question." Thus, having thrown off the mask, 
he proceeds to give utterance to candid and undisguised 
anti-Semitism : 

" The peculiarity of this race is that they refuse 
assimilation by inter-marriage, equally with Russians in 
Russia, with Arabs in Tunis, or with the English in 
England, just as rigidly as did their ancestors refuse inter- 
marriage with Gentiles in the days of Nehemiah." The 
matter presented in this form offers the interesting point 
of being not new. The aloofness of the Jew has already 
been shown to have been the fundamental cause of his 
sufferings. Had the Jews not formed a " peculiar 
people " they would not have been made the milch-cows 
and the scapegoats of the nations through the ages. But 
it can also be shown that at the present day this is 
only partially true in the countries which have genuinely 
1 Arnold White, For Efficiency, 1 902, price 3d. 


adopted the Jews. It is estimated that there occur far 
more marriages in England between Jews and Christians 
than between Protestants and Catholics. By the Jewish 
law marriage between a Jew and a proselyte is perfectly 
lawful. The barrier is thus, after all, one of religion 
rather than of race. Naturally an inclination towards 
such intermarriage would not prevail on either side 
except in comparatively rare cases. Yet the strange 
fact remains that such mixed marriages are at least as 
common in the lower as in the upper classes of Jewish 

•Besides, though the clannishness of the race in the 
past explains its persecution, does it excuse it ? Is it 
an argument that a modern statesman in a free country 
should accept as justifying exclusion ? Moreover, if the 
Jews really are so black as the author paints them, is it 
not rather unpatriotic of him to wish to see them inter- 
marrying with us, and thus contriving " to contaminate 
our English life" far more effectively than they will be 
able to do if they continue to be a people apart ? How- 
ever, consistency in reasoning is not, as has already been 
remarked, the anti-Semite's forte. 

The oracle supplies us with seven reasons — mystic 
and ominous number — why " the immigration of the 
poorest Jews from Russia and Poland is a national 

i . " They lower the Englishman's standard of comfort, 
and are unduly addicted to the calling of usury." 

2. The competition is injurious to the Englishman 
because it is " not to determine the survival of the fittest, 
but to determine the survival of the fittest to exist on a 
herring and a piece of black bread." 

3. "They subsist contentedly on a diet which is 
insufficient to sustain the meat -eating Anglo-Saxon." 

4. " Their habits of huddling together under circum- 
stances of unmentionable filth destroy the possibility of 
dealing with the housing question, and set at naught our 
municipal sanitary laws." 

5. "They lower the wages of unskilled women and 
unskilled labourers." 


6. "They raise rent." 

7. "They enlarge the area of the sweating system." 
The usury charge has been answered by experience and 

Economic Science ages ago. But the patriot contributes 
to the discussion quite a fresh element when he describes 
the Jewish immigrants as paupers and, in the same breath, 
as usurers. He does not deign to explain how men who, 
as he later asserts, are induced to leave their homes by 
destitution and are drawn to London by the "magnetism" 
of the Jewish charities, how these penniless beggars can 
"adopt money-lending as a means of livelihood." If 
they are paupers they cannot be money-lenders, and if 
they are money-lenders they cannot be paupers. To 
starve and to lend at the same time is a feat that even a 
Jew is hardly capable of. 

As to sweating and sanitation, these are matters for 
which legislation, if it is worth the name, ought to be able 
to devise far less drastic remedies than that proposed 
by statistical patriotism. The remaining reasons, when 
pruned of repetition and reduced to their logical dimen- 
sions, resolve themselves into this : We do not want the 
Jew, because he can work harder than we, for less wages 
than we, and can live more frugally than we. In other 
words, because for the purposes of the struggle for 
existence he is better equipped than we. He is too 
formidable a rival. 

But on this point also the enemies of the Jew are at 
fatal variance. Another writer pronounces the explana- 
tion of the Jewish immigrant's success as due to his lower 
standard of living and greater capacity for labouring, 
paradoxical. " It is," he says, " as though one were to 
maintain that of two pieces of machinery the worse did 
most work and required less fuel." He seeks and finds 
the true reason of the displacement of the English crafts- 
man, not in the " alleged frugality of the foreign comer " 
or in " his readiness to do more for his money," but in 
" the Jewish system of out-door poor relief . . . which 
makes rivalry and successful competition an impossibility." 
As an instance, he quotes the fact that poor children who 
attend the Jews' Free School in Bell-lane are partially fed 


and clothed by a charitable Hebrew family. The writer, 
though apparently resenting even competition in philan- 
thropy as something monstrous and dishonest, yet is 
charitable enough to admit that " it may be good, it may 
be bad; fair or unfair to other schools." 1 One would 
think that schools were shops competing with one another 
as to which of them will attract the greatest number of 
customers and not disinterested institutions for the educa- 
tion of the community. Furthermore, one would think 
that the fact quoted alone ought to move good Christians 
to an emulation of the Jewish rival and thank him for the 
example of beneficence which he sets them, instead of 
turning that very example into a new reproach and adduc- 
ing it as a reason for excluding him from the country. 
Finally, one would think that, instead of reviling the 
Jew for assisting his less fortunate co-religionists, a true 
patriot might be induced, in sheer rivalry, to assist his 
own. But what actually happens is this. We tell the 
Jew, " We let our own unemployed starve, and you 
don't. This is not fair to our poor unemployed." 
Verily, the ethics of anti-Semitism are as wonderful as 
its logic. 

The same narrow-minded dread of the alien competitor 
is at the present day exhibited in South Africa. At a 
meeting in Cape Town on Sept. 23rd, 1904, the speakers 
began by denouncing the Indians as Asiatics, but they 
soon extended their objections to Jews, Greeks, and 
Italians. The Jews were accused of working on Sundays, 
the Greeks of keeping their shops open later than the 
natives, the Italians of sending large sums of money (their 
hardly earned savings) out of the Colony to their homes. 
A writer commenting on this report sensibly remarks : 
" Against stupidity of this sort argument fights in vain." 2 
And his opinion will be shared by most sane people in 
England. Yet many of these people will probably be 

1 " The Alien Inquiry : an omitted point," The Standard, Sept. 5, 

2 The Pioneer, Nov. 14, 1904. Commercial jealousy, embittered by 
racial prejudice, is also at the root of the anti-Japanese agitation now 
raging in California. 


ready to approve the exclusion of the Jewish immigrant, 
not seeing that what is rightly condemned as stupid 
intolerance in one country can hardly be justified as 
enlightened statesmanship in another. 

Time was when thrift, extreme frugality, success in life, 
and clannishness were the causes of the Englishman's 
hatred for the Scotch competitor, when the latter after 
the Union began to emigrate to the South. Those aliens 
were, like the Jews, accused of " herding together " and 
of living on little, were envied for getting on in the 
world, and were denounced for pushing one another on. 
The clamour has passed away, and no sober Englishman 
of to-day would dream of reviving it. Patriotic bigots in 
those days advised the exclusion of the Scotch " undesir- 
able," and had a goodly following among people who, 
having failed in life themselves, could not forgive the 
foreigner his success. " But," as a writer on the subject 
pertinently asks, " would it have been well for England, 
even in a purely commercial point of view, if the Scotch 
had been legally excluded ? Have not her children reaped 
benefits from the labours of those whom their forefathers 
desired to forbid the country ? " x 

To such considerations, however, our modern patriot is 
nobly invulnerable. He soon forgets even his seven 
reasons, feeble and contradictory as they are, in his 
Nationalist enthusiasm. The Jewish millionaire is as 
hateful to him as the Jewish pauper. He describes the 
Jews as a race gifted with indomitable cunning and an 
extraordinary capacity for perceiving " with lightning 
glance the exact moment to corner a market," as "a 
powerful, exclusive and intolerant race " of experts " in 
the flotation of companies," as adepts " in the art of 
deluding the public by the inflation of worthless securities 
with an artificial and effervescent value," as a tribe whose 
" undue economic predominance " has been promoted by 
— O ye shades of King John and Torquemada — " the 
mild spirit of Christianity ! " 

To descend from the ludicrously sublime to the 
sublimely ludicrous : " Jewish ascendancy at Court is so 
1 Charles Grant, The Contemporary Review, March, 1881. 


conspicuous as to be the subject of incessant lamentation 
on the part of full-blooded Englishmen." Surely the end 
of the British Empire cannot be very distant when the 
King goes to Newmarket "accompanied by a Jewish 
financier," " is the guest of a Jewish financier," and when, 
highest horror of all, " in the published names of the 
dinner party on the first night every one was a Jewish 
financier, or his relation, with the exception of the King's 
aide-de-camp and the Portuguese Minister " — the latter, 
if not a Jew, an alien ! 

The patriot then warns us in tones irresistibly remini- 
scent of Lewis Carroll : " The time has come to speak out 
about this alien influence. There is danger ahead. . . . 
There are ugly rumours to the effect that wealthy 
members of the Jewish community have placed the King 
of England under undue obligations. If this be true, 
it is the duty of the people of England to extricate their 
Sovereign from the toils of the modernized version of 
Isaac of York. If it be untrue, there is the less reason 
for Jews occupying their too prominent position at Court. 
No sincere lover of his country can contemplate without 
anxiety the gradual disappearance of the old families and 
the ascendancy of the smart Semites who treat as 
trenchermen and led captains what remains of English 
society. The efficiency of the British nation requires 
the ascendancy of the Anglo-Saxon, not the Semitic, 
element in it. It is time to restrict the immigration of 
potential money-lenders from Eastern Europe." The 
Jeremiad concludes with a truly ominous reminder : 
"In 1290 the Jews were expelled from England." 

Continental anti-Semitism can show nothing superior to 
these lamentations of our " full-blooded " " Anglo-Saxon." 
In them we have all the hereditary features of Jew-hatred 
exaggerated by insular distrust of everything foreign and 
by provincial lack of sense of proportion or humour. 
This manifesto, however, despite its limitations, is a 
fair specimen of a kind of literature common enough on 
the Continent, though still rare in these backward islands. 
Those interested in the subject will find in the German 
anti-Semitic pamphlets and in the Russian Panslavist 


newspapers the prototypes of all the arguments, senti- 
ments and self-contradictions of which those embodied 
in this lugubrious production are pale copies. But the 
pamphlet is more than a literary curiosity. Like the 
proverbial straw which, of no importance in itself, yet 
deserves notice as indicating the direction of the current, 
this product of a provincial mind is worthy of some 
attention as a sign of the times. Already there have 
been found Englishmen illiberal enough to overlook 
all the good points in the character of poor Jewish 
immigrants — their untiring industry, sobriety and self- 
sacrifice — and to ridicule, in supreme bad taste, the 
pathetic devotion which impels these wretched wanderers 
to seek solace for their sufferings in prayer and in the 
study of the Book which has been the only source 
of comfort to millions of their people for the last twenty 
centuries and to millions of our own for more than 
half that time. 1 

From another point of view also the pamphlet is 
a document, even more valuable, because more candid, 
than a less crude performance would have been. It forms 
a hyphen of connection between pure anti-Semitism — a 
small matter in England as yet — and another tendency 
entirely different in origin, far more widely spread, and 
shared by persons who, in other respects, have little 
in common with the provincial patriot. This is the 
tendency towards a reaction of which the anti-alien 
agitation is one symptom, and the clamour for protection 
another ; both pointing to a change of sentiment in 
favour of the political ideals fashionable before the reign 
of Queen Victoria. 

Until the nineteenth century England was essentially a 
Tory country. The few ruled the many, and their rule 
was based on the assumption — no doubt largely justified 
in those days — that the many were not fit to rule them- 
selves. A seat in the House of Commons was virtually 
a family heirloom ; patronage filled the Church, and 

1 See an article under the title "The East-End Hevra" in The 
Standard of April 27, and a reply to it in the issue of May 1, 


favouritism controlled the army and the navy. The 
whole of English public life — civil, religious, and military 
—was under the sway of an oligarchy, and fair competi- 
tion was a thing unknown. It was the reign of Protection 
in the broadest acceptation of the term. Then came the 
awakening of the masses — an awakening the first token 
of which had already appeared in the transference of a 
literary man's homage from a noble patron to the general 
public — and gradually the lethargic acquiescence in the 
decrees of an aristocratic Providence was supplanted by 
healthy discontent. The fruit of this deep and slow 
evolution was the series of reforms which, by trans- 
ferring to public opinion the power which was formerly 
vested in a privileged class, turned England from a pure 
aristocracy into a moderate kind of democracy. The 
rotten boroughs were swept out of existence, and, by the 
removal of religious disabilities, the English Parliament 
and the English Universities became truly representa- 
tive institutions. Along with these changes came 
the demand for free competition in another sphere — 
commerce — and the agitation resulted in the repeal of the 
Corn Laws. In every department of life the indi- 
vidual claimed and, in part, obtained freedom of initiative 
and action. Laissez-faire became the motto of the 
Victorian era, and the free international exchange of 
goods promised at last to realise the ideals of international 
friendship and reciprocity which the eighteenth century 
had preached but proved unable to practise. 

We now seem to be entering on a new chapter in our 
history. It looks as though the Liberal current which 
has carried the nation thus far has spent its force, and the 
counter-current is asserting itself. The House of Commons 
still is an assembly of popular representatives, but it has 
lost much of its power for good or evil, and much of the 
respect which was once paid to it. Laissez-faire is only 
mentioned to be derided, the principle of free competition 
is openly assailed, internationalism is branded as cosmo- 
politanism and appeals to humanity as proofs of morbid 
sentimentality ; while protection is confidently advocated 
in commerce and industry. How has this change of 


sentiment come about ? One of its causes may be 
found in the growth of the Imperial idea. The history 
of all nations shows that national expansion, though 
often achieved by individual enterprise, can only be 
maintained by organised effort, by concentration of 
power in a few hands, and by a proportionate dimi- 
nution of individual freedom. Democracy and Empire 
have never flourished together. That the one may 
prosper, the other must perish. For this reason we find 
the true democrat necessarily what is now called amongst 
us a Little Englander ; the true Imperialist as necessarily 
a dictator. The anti-democratic reaction in England 
was inevitable, owing partly to the expansion of Greater 
Britain itself, and partly to the development of other 
countries on Imperialist and despotic lines. For it is 
now less possible than ever for England to develop 
uninfluenced by the example of her neighbours. And 
the example set by those neighbours, as has been shown, 
is narrow and militant nationalism in their relations with 
foreigners, and with regard to domestic matters despotism 
and centralisation. But the growth of this inevitable 
reaction has in England been accelerated by other and 
more specific causes. 

For a generation after the establishment of Free Trade 
England enjoyed an unparalleled prosp